New York - Retail sales of CE and major appliances rose 1.2 percent in March, on top of a year-ago increase of 5.7 percent.
Last month's biggest gains were online, where, according to MasterCard Advisors' Spending Pulse retail report, CE sales spiked 14 percent and total e-commerce revenue increased 16.1 percent, representing the fifth consecutive month of double-digit growth.
Individual retailers will report their March sales results tomorrow.
Research and analysis VP Michael McNamara attributed the strong web showing to higher gasoline prices, which "typically result in consumers consolidating shopping trips, shopping closer to home, and making fewer trips to the brick-and-mortar locations."
Majap dealers also faced stiffer comparisons to last year, when a federally funded "cash for appliances" rebate program stoked white-goods sales.
MasterCard's monthly SpendingPulse report tracks national retail and service sales activity based on MasterCard payments and survey-based estimates for other payment forms including cash and check.
Separately, a poll of 8,200 consumers by Discover's U.S. Spending Monitor showed that confidence fell for the second straight month in March, as high gas prices correlated with discouraging consumer views about the direction of the U.S. economy.
Fifty-three percent of consumers still rate the economy as poor, practically unchanged from February, while 35 percent rate it as fair and just 10 percent rate the economy as good or excellent.
Fully 51 percent of Americans feel economic conditions are getting worse, a 7-point jump from February and the highest number the survey has shown since September 2010. Twenty percent of respondents feel conditions are the same, while 25 percent of the population feels the economy is improving.