By  on April 13, 2006

WASHINGTON — Consumers spent fairly freely last month, just not on fashion.

Sales at all retailers and food service providers posted a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent gain at the cash register in March compared to February. But sales at apparel and accessories stores were flat for the month, while department stores registered a 0.1 percent decline, according to a monthly Commerce Department report.

Sales in March where stronger when compared with a year earlier, with apparel and accessory shops rising 6.6 percent to $17.4 billion and department stores increasing 0.4 percent to $17.9 billion. But sales at all stores and food service providers were even better, advancing 7.9 percent to $361 billion from a year ago.

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