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Economic Report: Retail sales post worst two-month stretch in two year

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Sales at auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants fell in March, but clothing and electronics stores posted snappy results.

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Sales at U.S. retailers fell in March for the second month in a row, marking the worst two-month stretch in two years and adding to evidence that first-quarter U.S. growth will be on the soft side.

Sales at retailers nationwide declined 0.2% last month, mostly because of cheaper gas and incentives by car dealers to drum up sales. Slower-than usual issuances of tax refunds may have also contributed to weaker spending in the early spring.

What made the decline seem even worse, though, was a government update to sales figures for February that showed a 0.3% drop instead of a 0.1% increase as originally reported.

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