The rise was 0.8 percent against the previous month in price, seasonally and calendar-adjusted terms, according to provisional figures by the federal statistics office Destatis.
Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected an increase of 1.0 percent for March following a drop of 0.9 percent the previous month.
On a 12-month basis, retail sales rose by 2.3 percent in February, the statisticians calculated.
Monthly retail sales data are volatile and subject to frequent revision.
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