WASHINGTON, March 13 (UPI) -- U.S. retail sales rose by 0.3 percent in February, suggesting a thaw in the sluggish sales seen over the unusually harsh winter and a recovery in the economy.
According to the Commerce Department, retail sales had positive growth for the first time in three months, rising 0.3 percent from January. Retail sales rose at the same pace when excluding auto purchases.
Revisions to January's numbers showed that retail sales fell 0.6 percent, compared with a 0.4 percent drop reported initially. After slowing sales in December and January, largely due to an unusually harsh winter, sales increased in all categories including at restaurants, sporting goods and furniture.
Most economic indicators were sluggish in January and December, eating into gains made all of last year. But with wages registering a small uptick and hiring number better than expected, economists expect household budgets to be in a much better shape, leading to higher sales over the spring and summer.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a conservative 0.2 percent gain in overall sales, accounting for a large part of the country being blanketed with ice and snow. But now it seems likely that sales will pick up over the next few months as a result of warmer temperatures and pent-up demand.
[Commerce Department] [Wall Street Journal]