US retail sales down

Washington, April 13 (IANS) US retail and food services sales unexpectedly recorded their biggest fall in nine months in March, the Department of Commerce reported.

The department said the combined retail and food services sales in March dropped 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted $418.3 billion. It followed a 1 percent gain in February, reported Xinhua.

In March, sales of motor vehicles went down 0.6 percent and sales at gas stations fell 2.2 percent, reflecting a sharp decline in gas prices.

Excluding autos, retail and food services sales totaled $340.5 billion, 0.4 percent lower than February.

A decline in retail sales is a troubling sign for the overall economy, as consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of total economic activity. Economists worried the US economy may end the first quarter on softer footing.

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