US retail sales rise at healthy 0.8 percent pace

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. retail sales rose at a solid pace last month, pushed up by higher sales of electronics and home and garden supplies. The increase suggests consumers aren't pulling back on spending in the face of higher gas prices.

The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.8 percent in March. That's below February's 1 percent increase but above January's pace.

Americans spent more on gas and cars, but the increase was less than the previous month. Excluding car and gasoline sales, retail sales increased 0.7 percent, a healthier gain than in February.

Sales at electronics stores rose 1 percent, the most in five months.

The gain pushed retail sales to a record high of $411.1 billion, 24 percent higher than the recession low hit in March 2009.


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