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Store sales post slight increase

By Parija Kavilanz, senior writer


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.

Sales at miscellaneous, such as florists, used merchandise stores, pet and pet supply stores fell 2.1% and slipped 0.3% among online-only merchants. To top of page

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