With spring having sprung and the economy continuing to show signs of a rebound, consumers opened up their wallets last month and caused retail sales to increase 1.6% last month, the Commerce Department reported today.
The March figures were 5% higher than those of March 2009 and sales from January through March were 5.5% higher than in the same period last year.
Total retail and food sales in March were $363.1 billion, compared with February's $354 billion and $337.4 billion in March 2009.
The data from March showed 0.6% increase in non-automobile sales from February, but that was 6.4% higher than in March 2009.
There was a 6.7% increase in sales at car, truck, and recreational vehicle dealers and parts stores from February but that represented a 14.1% increase from March 2009.
Sales of other kinds of motorized vehicles rose 7.5% last month, a 16.1% increase from March 2009.
Almost all other types of retailers had increased sales in March. The largest growth was at building/garden supply and clothing stores, which saw sales rose by 3.1% and 2.3%, respectively.
Gasoline stations and electronics/appliance stores were the only kind of retailers that experienced declines in sales. They fell 0.4% and 1.3%, respectively.