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.
Chromebooks, Google's cheap, modestly powered laptops, make up just a tiny percentage of notebook sales. But Microsoft is freaking out about them. More
Seeking: web developer, marketing associate, and budtender. More
From fewer police to cuts in healthcare benefits and monthly pension checks, Detroit's workers, retirees and residents share how their lives have been changed by the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. More