Retail Sales were rather unimpressive: Gasoline, Groceries, Food & Beverage were up, while pretty much everything else was flat to down.
If you want to get rid of the Easter factor, compare March/April 2007 with March/April 2008.
Perhaps some chart porn might be instructive:
click for larger charts
Retail Sales vs. March CPI
(sales versus inflation)
courtesy of Jake
courtesy of Bespoke Group
Retail Sales Versus Past Recessions
courtesy of CEO Economic Update