The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index fell to 90.0 in March from a final reading of 91.7 in February. Analysts had expected the index to rise at 92.2.
"Consumer confidence eased in early March due to increased concerns about prospects for the economy as well as the expectation that gas prices would inch upward during the year ahead," the Surveys of Consumers chief economist at the University of Michigan Richard Curtin said.
"While consumers do not anticipate a recession, they no longer expect the economy to outperform the 2.4% rate of economic growth recorded in the past two years," he added.
The index of current economic conditions declined to 105.6 in March from 106.8 in February, while the index of consumer expectations decreased to 80.0 from 81.9.
The one-year inflation expectations increased to 2.7% in March from 2.5% in February.