Consumers increased spending in virtually every category, from online stores to traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers. Automobiles, electronics and appliances, building materials and clothing stores saw the largest gains.
Retail sales climbed 0.8 percent in March, the U.S. Commerce Department said, following revised increases of 1.0 percent in February and 0.7 percent in January.
Consumer spending accounts for as much as 70 percent of U.S. economy.
Retailers have been helped by one of the warmest winters in decades.
The largest local gainers in the BizTimes Stock Index this morning were Joy Global Inc. (up 55 cents to $75.23) and Kohl’s Corp. (up 49 cents to $50.08).