WASHINGTON — Economists chalked up the slight gain in retail sales in March to seasonal anomalies, but noted a temporary bounce-back could occur with a successful end to the war in Iraq, combined with warmer spring weather.

Sales at clothing and accessories stores rose a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent to $14.84 billion against February and gained 1.3 percent compared with March 2002, according to the Commerce Department’s retail sales report released Friday. Sales at department stores, excluding leased departments, fell slightly last month by 0.3 percent to $18.23 billion, while sales at general merchandise stores rose by 0.3 percent to $39.25 billion.

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