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Retail sales squeak out 0.3% gain in February

Weather not so much a factor, apparently

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For some reason, the cold weather blamed for weak sales in December and January didn’t come into play for February, as retail sales edged slightly higher, even as January’s numbers were revised down.

Retail sales inched up 0.3% in February after declining 0.6% in January, revised from the initial report as down 0.4%.

Interestingly, building materials and garden equipment rose 0.3% in February, following a gain of 1.4% the prior month. This may point to moderate strength in housing despite the weather.

In the core, strength in February was in sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores; nonstore retailers; health and personal care and furniture and home furnishings.

Motor vehicle sales added lift, increasing 0.3%, following a heavy 2.2% drop in January. Sales gained 0.3% after falling 0.3% in January.

Gasoline sales were up only a marginal 0.1% after a 1.0% jump the month before. Retail sales excluding autos and gasoline increased 0.3% after declining 0.5% in January. Analysts projected a 0.1% gain.

Retail sales have not been doing very well but it may be due to atypically adverse weather. Overall retail sales in January fell 0.4%, following a decrease of 0.1% in December.

January revisions show declines were seen in furniture and home furnishings; health and personal care; clothing; sporting goods, hobby, and the like; department stores; nonstore retailers; and food services and drinking places.

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