Sales at U.S. retailers increased broadly in February as rising energy prices boosted receipts at gasoline stations, but consumers also spent on a range of products in a sign of resilience in the face of rising gasoline prices.
Total retail sales rose 1.0 percent, the Commerce Department said on Friday, the largest gain since October and the eighth straight monthly advance. January sales were revised up to a 0.7 percent rise from a previously reported 0.3 percent gain.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected retail sales to increase 1.2 percent last month. Compared to February last, sales were up 8.9 percent.
Excluding autos, sales rose 0.7 percent last month after gaining 0.6 percent in January. That was in line with economists’ expectations.
Consumers last month overcame a 3.7 percent increase in gasoline prices to spend on a range of goods, including autos, whose sales rose 2.3 percent after rising 1.2 percent in January. Receipts at gasoline stations increased 1.4 percent after rising 1.3 percent in January. Excluding gasoline, sales rose 0.9 percent after rising 0.6 percent in January.
Outside autos and gasoline, consumers also spent on clothing, lifting sales 0.8 percent. Receipts at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores increased 1.3 percent, while sales at building materials and garden equipment suppliers were up 0.6 percent.
So-called core retail sales — which exclude autos, gasoline and building materials — rose 0.6 percent after a 0.7 percent gain in January.
Core sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of the governments’ gross domestic product report. Spending, which accounts for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, grew at a 4.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, the fastest in more than four years.
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