With the figures almost in line, the sales gain excluding automobile sales remained consistent at 0.8 percent, the bureau said.
Retail sales, including food service sales, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for prices, rose from $407.8 billion in February to $411.1 billion in March.
Gas station sales rose 1.1 percent from February and 7.6 percent from March 2011.
Sales of building material and gardening equipment jumped 3 percent month-to-month and 14.1 percent from March 2011.
For the first quarter of the year, total sales rose 6.4 percent from January through March of 2011, the bureau said in a release.