U.S. retail sales experience slight rise in March

Marks ninth straight month of increases

WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales edged up slightly from last month to $389.3 billion, an increase of 0.4%, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday.

The increase marks the ninth consecutive month sales have risen, which could indicate that an economic recovery is under way; however, many fear that looming gas and food prices could impact future months.

The government agency also noted that retail sales experienced a 7.1% jump above the year-ago period, while total sales from January to March were 8.1% above the same period last year. Across retail sectors, grocery stores during the month of March rose 0.3% to nearly $45.6 million, up from $41.8 million in February, while health and personal care stores saw a 10.8% surge in sales, raking in $23.9 million for the month.

Although advanced estimates for pharmacies and drug stores are not included in the report, the U.S. Census Bureau noted sales for the sector dropped about $1.1 million to $18.1 million in February.

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