WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales in March rose by the largest amount in 18 months, led by strong gains in sales of autos, furniture and a number of other products.
The Commerce Department said Monday that retail sales rose 1.1 percent in March, the best showing since September 2012. The government also revised February to a 0.7 percent gain, more than double its previous estimate. Sales had fallen in January and December.
Sales of autos climbed 3.1 percent while sales at general merchandise stores, a category that covers retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target and department stores, increased 1.9 percent, the strongest one-month gain since March 2007, before the country went through the recession.
The strong March gain was evidence that the economy is emerging from a harsh winter with some momentum.