Retail sales in the U.S. rose more than forecast in March as Americans snapped up everything from cars and furniture to clothes and electronics.
The 0.8 percent gain was almost three times as large as projected and followed a 1 percent advance in February, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 81 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for an increase of 0.3 percent.
An improving job market is giving households confidence to sustain spending in the face of higher gasoline costs, boosting sales at chains such as Gap Inc. (GPS) and Target Corp. (TGT) Strengthening consumer demand raises the odds that the world’s largest economy will weather a recession in Europe and slower growth in China.
Households “have the income to propel their purchases now that we’re seeing job growth,” said Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit and the third- best forecaster of retail sales for the 24 months ended in March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “They have adjusted to the higher price of fuel. The economy now needs to build on its own momentum.”