According to pollsters at The Conference Board, their consumer confidence index fell from 70.4% in February to 63.4%, as hopes for an improved economy in the future wilted.
Amid Middle East turmoil and sustained demand from emerging economies, food and energy prices appear to have eroded confidence that had been at a three-year high.
"Consumers' inflation expectations rose significantly in March and their income expectations soured," said the Conference Board's research director Lynn Franco.
Average U.S. gasoline prices have risen 23 cents in the last month and are up nearly 80 cents from a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011