The Commerce Department announced that retail sales declined in March, ending two months of tentative gains as consumer confidence remains weak. Sales dropped 1.1 percent last month, and were down 10.7 percent compared to March 2008. Sectors that saw dismal results included automobiles, home furnishings, gasoline and clothing, while spending on electronics and appliances declined 5.9 percent.
March’s poor performance was a blow to the hopeful outlook that retailers saw after sales rose 1.8 percent in January and 0.3 percent in February. “If consumers had turned the corner in January and February, they apparently did not like what they saw and quickly reversed course in March,” Richard Moody, chief economist at Forward Capital, told The New York Times.