Even more evidence that American economy growth is weakening for the first three months of the year: as, unexpectedly, the overall retail sales for the country decreased in March, thanks to low automobile sales.
On April 13, the Commerce Department stated there was a decrease in retail sales by 0.3% in March, after no change in February. In fact, a Reuters economist poll conducted in March predicted that retail sales would actually increase by 0.1%.
Even more so, with the exception of auto sales, gas, food services, and building materials, retail sales actually did increase by 0.1% in March, after a 0.1% increase from February.
Reuters reports that automotive sales decreased by just over 2%, marking the biggest drop in this sector, in about year; with February’s auto sales being unchanged. Sadly, U.S. households are simply buying less vehicles, off the cusp of record-high buys in 2015. However, service stations sales were up last month by 0.9%, which was the highest increase since June 2015.
Other retail sales were mixed. Clothing store sales decreased and online store sales decreased, by 0.9% and 0.1% respectively. Alternatively, hobby stores and sporting good shops saw an increase, both by 0.2%. Electronic and appliance sales increased by 0.1%; and building materials, as well as garden equipment sales jumped by 1.4%. Meanwhile bars and restaurant’s saw a decrease in sales by 0.8%.
Last month’s weak reading, along with the recent numbers around trade, business spending, as well as wholesale inventories, added to the idea that the U.S. economy may be going through a rough patch during its first quarter. The growth estimates for the economy during this first three-month mark are quite low, at a 0.2% annualized rate. Still, the economy grew at a rate of 1.4%, during the last quarter of 2015.