Unseasonably warm weather that boosted the construction sector helped drive US retail sales in March, Commerce Department figures showed on Monday.
Overall retail and food service sales expanded by 0.8 per cent last month, according to preliminary estimates, compared to February's 1.0 per cent expansion.
Despite the month-to-month slowdown, the pace of growth was solid, and marked a 6.5 per cent increase from March 2011.
The first-quarter growth was also 6.4 per cent higher than the year-earlier period.
Near-record warm temperatures in many places across the country appeared to help drive a 3.0 per cent surge in the month in sales of building materials and garden supplies.
But sales growth was sluggish at restaurants and bars, and at grocery stores and pharmacies, adding just 0.3-0.4 per cent, according to Commerce Department data.
"Retail sales beat expectations nicely ... helping quell worries about the impact of high gasoline prices," said Jennifer Lee of BMO Capital Markets.