It’s encapsulated well by Zerohedge:
When in doubt: baffle them with an economy that is both alive and dead (as has been the case for the past 4 months). While on one hand we saw a big miss in the Empire State Manufacturing Index, which slid from 20.21 to 6.56, on expectations of a +18.00 print, and the lowest since November, March retail sales in turn beat expectations, coming in at +0.8% on both headline and ex-autos, with the expectation for retail sales ex-autos at 0.6%, slightly less than the +1.1% retail sale change reported for February. Why are retail sales still strong? Goldman explained it earlier: “We expect that warm winter weather boosted retail sales over the last several months, but it is probably too soon to expect a negative payback in today’s report, given that temperatures were still higher than normal in March (and to a greater degree than in February).” Translation: consumers use credit cards to buy things in March they would otherwise have bought in May.