March Retail Sales Down 0.7%

March 2003 retail sales were 0.7% lower than sales for March 2002, according to a survey by information services firm ShopperTrak. The survey also showed that during the first 11 days of the war with Iraq, consumer spending dropped 1.9% from the same period of last year. Broken down by region, consumer spending in the Northeast fell by 3%, by 2% in the West, by 1.9% in the South, and by 0.8% in the Midwest.

Tracked on a week-over-week basis, U.S. retail sales fell their largest since Jan. 4, dropping 10% for the week ended March 29 compared with the week ended March 22. And although year-over-year sales for the week ended March 29 fell just 1.8%, ShopperTrak says the weakness has more to do with Easter falling three weeks later this year than last, rather than due to the war.