Retail sales top December's total – again

Some retailers, led by gasoline stations and clothing stores, saw sales improve in February.

Paul Sakuma/AP
Gasoline stations, like this one in Palo Alto, Calif., saw gas prices rise in February, which boosted sales.

Retail sales in February fell 0.1 percent from the previous month and, not counting autos, actually advanced an unexpected 0.7 percent.

For the second straight month, consumers bought more than they did in December (on a seasonally adjusted basis), according to figures released by the Census Bureau Thursday. Year over year, February's retail sales fell 8.6 percent.

The biggest decline was in autos and auto parts, which fell 4.3 percent from January. Year over year, sales in the automotive sector fell 23.5 percent. Grocers and other food and beverage outlets saw a 0.7 percent decline month over month. Restaurants and building- and garden-supply also fell slightly, 0.2 percent apiece.

Other than that, retailers saw sales climb in February, led by gasoline stations (up 3.4 percent on higher gasoline prices) and clothing and accessory stores (up 2.8 percent).

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