U.S. retail sales fell 0.4% in March, the biggest decrease in nine months, amid a slowdown in hiring and higher taxes. Excluding sales of autos, gas and building materials, core sales dropped 0.2% in March, following a 0.3% increase in January.
A report released Friday by the Commerce Department said that retail sales in the U.S. rose 0.5% in July, the most in four months and demonstrating that consumers may be holding their own in a tumultuous economy.
After coming off a strong November, retailers found their momentum waned in December, with many turning in mixed sales for the month. Industry experts said sales were impacted by a still-cautious consumer and the blizzard the crippled the Northeast in the days immediately following Christmas.