NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Store sales rose slightly in March, aided by a surge in furniture and home furnishings, and robust gains in electronics and gasoline sales, the government reported Wednesday.
However, the overall gain was offset by a 1.7% decline in auto purchases in the month.
The Commerce Department said total retail sales rose 0.4% last month.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com on average had forecast an increase of 0.5% for March, compared to a 1% gain in sales the prior month.
Sales excluding autos and auto parts rose 0.8% in March, slightly better than expected, compared to a 0.7% increase in ex-auto sales in February.
Economists had expected a 0.7% uptick in the measure, according to Briefing.com.
According to the government report, furniture and home furnishing purchases jumped 3.6% in March. Electronics sales increased 2.1% while sales of clothing rose 0.6%.
Gasoline station sales rose 2.6%, boosted by higher gas prices.
Elsewhere, department store sales slipped 0.2% in the month.