Mild winter weather and pent-up demand for autos helped U.S. retail sales rise 1.1 percent from the previous month and 6.5 percent from February 2011, the Commerce Department said.
Building suppliers saw a 13.8 percent jump in sales from January as home-improvement retailers enjoyed earlier-than-usual sales of lawn furniture, landscaping supplies and other goods.
Automobile sales also continued their recovery, rising 1.6 percent from January. Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.9 percent, following January’s upwardly revised 1.1 percent gain.
Sales at gasoline stations jumped 3.3 percent after rising 1.9 percent in January. Excluding autos and gasoline, sales rose 0.6 percent in February after increasing 1.0 percent in January. Gasoline accounted for 11.5 percent of retail sales in February.