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March Commerce Department Numbers Disappoint

The Commerce Department has reported March figures, which came in worse than expected. Sales dropped 1.1 percent from February and are 9.4 percent below last March. Economists had expected sales to rise 0.3 percent. On a positive note, the February sales figures were revised from down 0.1 percent to up 0.3 percent.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for March, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $344.4 billion, a decrease of 1.1 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month and 9.4 percent (±0.7%) below March 2008. Total sales for the January through March 2009 period were down 8.8 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The January 2009 to February 2009 percent change was revised from -0.1 percent (±0.5%)* to +0.3 percent (±0.3%)*.

Retail trade sales were down 1.1 percent (±0.7%) from February 2009 and 10.7 percent (±0.7%) below last year. Gasoline stations sales were down 34.0 percent (±1.5%) from March 2008 and motor vehicle and parts dealers sales were down 23.5 percent (±2.3%) from last year.

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