It is now time for the US Census Bureau to tell us about the changes in total receipts at stores that sell durable and nondurable goods.
February was right in line with expectations. Overall, retail sales increased by 1.0%, with ex-auto retail sales up 0.7%. Of course, that good news did nothing to soothe the market, because the information came out right around the time the US was really getting a good look at the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Here's hoping that the figures for March turn out better.
It does not appear that the analysts are expecting things to improve, though. The Econoday-surveyed analysts are looking for only a 0.5% increase in March retail sales, with ex-auto sales up 0.7%. And what actually happened?
According to the report, the results are mixed. Overall retail sales for March were up only 0.4%, but ex-auto retail sales were up 0.8%. So we managed to both miss and beat expectations simultaneously. Furniture and home furnishings had the best month (up 3.6%) followed by gasoline stations (up 2.6%).
 And really, what else would a store sell?
 Although, since the figures aren't adjusted for changing prices, this could have a lot to do with rising gasoline costs.