US retail sales rebounded 0.3 percent in February

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 13, 2014 at 8:02 am •  Published: March 13, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales bounced back in February after suffering a steep decline during a bitterly cold January. Shoppers spent more on autos, clothing and furniture.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that seasonally-adjusted retail sales rose 0.3 percent in February. Spending had fallen 0.6 percent in January, revised down from the 0.4 percent decline initially reported. Retail spending also fell 0.3 percent in December.

The increase suggests that consumer spending has started to recover after being tempered by snowstorms and freezing temperatures that blanketed much of the country.

Auto sales rose 0.3 percent. Excluding volatile spending on autos, gas and building supplies, retail sales increased 0.3 percent from December.

Last month's rebound almost brought retail spending back to its December levels. Purchases at restaurants, online retailers and department stores also improved, although the economy has yet to fully shake off winter's impact.

Over the past 12 months, retail sales have risen a modest 1.5 percent.

The retail report offers a first look at February's consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of all economic activity. Many economists came into 2014 projecting that stronger consumer spending would cause growth to accelerate, only to find those estimates frustrated by the freezing weather across much of the country.

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