WASHINGTON - Retail sales rose 0.1% to $408.0 billion in April after climbing a downwardly revised 0.7% in March, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

The April gain was less than the 0.2% median increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters. March's increase was originally reported as 0.8%.

On a year over year unadjusted basis, retail sales were up 6.5% for 2012, compared to April 2011.

Excluding autos, retail sales were up 0.1% in April after climbing an unrevised 0.8 % in March.

The economists had projected a median estimate of a 0.2% climb for retail sales excluding autos.

Excluding autos and gas, retail sales rose 0.1% in April following a 0.8% gain the previous month. Excluding autos, gas, and building materials, retail sales went up 0.4% in April following a revised 0.4% advance in March.

The overall increase in retail sales got a boost from sales by nonstore, online and mail order retailers. Those sales rose 1.1%. Health and personal care stores also contributed, rising 0.6%, the most since an increase of that same amount in August 2011. Those gains were partially offset by a decline in sales of building materials and garden equipment and supplies, which fell 1.8%. That was the biggest drop since a 2.6% fall in January 2011

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