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March retail revenue figure inches up

NEW YORK – U.S. retailers are reporting a key revenue figure rose slightly in March, as shoppers held back on spending because of the cold weather across the nation, particularly the Midwest and East Coast, and continued fears about the economy.

Overall, 14 retailers reported on Thursday that revenue at stores open at least a year — a key indicator of retail health — rose an average of 0.6 percent, according to research firm Retail Metrics. Including drugstores, the number was slightly higher, up 1.5 percent.

“While clearly that’s not a great number by any stretch, it could have been worse,” said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics. “Wintry weather conditions persisted deep into March depressing spring apparel, home and garden, and seasonal merchandise sales.”

He expects April to be stronger, as the weather improves and customers respond to strong fashion trends such as colorful jeans. An earlier Easter, which meant one less selling day in March, will also help April results, he said.

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