U.S. Retail Sales Rose in March

Washington, D.C.–Retail sales in the U.S. increased last month; however, due to a sharp rise in gas sales, concern about consumer spending remains, the Financial Times reported Monday.Providing a bleak outlook for new orders, U.S. business inventories increased in February, and business sales fell by the biggest amount in more than a year, according to data from the Commerce Department. Retail sales, however, increased 0.2 percent last month. February’s 0.6 percent decline was revised to 0.4 percent.Declining home prices, weak employment and credit issues have greatly affected U.S. consumers; rising gas and food prices are stretching their budgets and caused consumer confidence to fall to a 26-year low.Gas station sales increased 1.1 percent, but retail sales were unchanged in March, indicating consumers are cutting spending. Building material, furniture, clothing and electronics sales all fell, but a rise in food, sporting goods and online sales offset the decline.