WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales fell in March from February by the most in nine months, indicating higher taxes and weak hiring have made consumers more cautious about spending.
The Commerce Department says retail sales declined a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent last month. That followed a 1 percent gain in February. Both February and January’s figures were revised lower.
Consumers cut back across a wide range of categories. Sales at auto dealers dropped 0.6 percent. Gas station sales dropped 2.2 percent, partly reflecting lower prices. The retail sales figures aren’t adjusted for price changes.
Excluding autos, gas and building materials, core sales dropped 0.2 percent in March. That followed a gain of 0.3 percent in January. Department stores, grocery stores, electronics retailers and sporting goods stores all reported lower sales.