U.S. retail sales slid for the second consecutive month in March, falling 0.2 percent. This was greater than the 0.1 percent analysts had expected, and significantly off the 5 percent increase in March 2016, according to U.S. Commerce Department data.
Retail sales for February were revised down to a 0.3 percent decrease from the 0.1 percent decrease originally reported in the first decline in the past year. Analysts are attributing part of the decline to delayed tax refunds as the government gives filings extra scrutiny to combat fraud.
Sales of automobiles slid 1.2 percent in March in the third consecutive month of declines. Meanwhile, sales at service stations were 1 percent lower amid lower gas prices. Sales at building materials stores also fell, down 1.5 percent, as many building projects were put on hold for weather-related reasons. (See also: Retailers Need to Step Up Closings.)
“As with last year,…