FILE - In this April 10, 2019, file photo visitors to Story walk through the shop now located at Macy's in New York. On Thursday, April 18, the Commerce Department releases U.S. retail sales data for March. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

US retail sales soared 1.6% in March

April 18, 2019 - 8:33 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales surged in March at the fastest pace since late 2017, as spending on autos, gasoline, furniture and clothing jumped.

The Commerce Department says that sales increased a seasonally adjusted 1.6% from February, the strongest increase since September 2017.

The gains mark a sharp rebound from a lackluster period of sales dating back to December. It's a sign that the healthy job market has likely made consumers more eager to spend in ways that boost overall economic growth.

Sales at gas stations climbed 3.5% in March, while spending at auto dealers jumped 3.1%. Clothiers reported a 2% gain and furniture stores enjoyed a 1.7% bump.

Excluding autos and gas, retail sales increased by a still solid 0.9%.

During the past year, retail spending has grown 3.6%.

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