Retail Sales increased by 1.0% in February, the highest increase in four months, to $387.1 billion annualized, matching expectations, following an increase of 0.7% in January after increasing by 0.5% in December. Over the past year, retail sales volume has expanded by 8.9%. The largest increase in retail sales came from motor vehicle and parts dealers with sales climbing 2.3%. This is in line with industry data which shows that car sales touched 13.38 million units annually, the highest since the cash-for-clunkers program in August 2009. Sales at gasoline stations increased by 1.4% as a result of higher oil prices after regular fuel prices increased 8 cents over the month. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores increased by 1.3% while food services and drinking places sales rose 1.2%. Electronics and appliance stores sales increased 0.9% after dipping 0.2% last month. Sales for clothing and accessories stores rose 0.8% while general merchandise stores sales grew 0.7% with department stores recording a 1.0% increase in sales. Building-supply and gardening stores witnessed a 0.6% increase in sales after losing 1.3% in January due to inclement weather. Sales at food and beverage stores also rose 0.6% with grocery stores recording a 0.5% increase. Furniture and home furnishing store sales decreased 0.8%. Both non-store retailers and health and personal care stores witnessed a 0.3% decline in sales. Retail Sales excluding autos increased by 0.7% in February, matching expectations, after increasing by 0.6% in January and by 0.3% in December.
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