A 5% surge in sales at gas stations helped propel overall retail sales up 1.1 percent in February following a revised advance of 0.2% the month before. That was well above the expectation of economists surveyed by Briefing.com.
Figures released by the Commerce Department show advances in eight of the 13 major categories. Following gas stations were auto sales and building materials sales -- both up. 1.1%; food and beverage stores, with a gain of 0.8%; and general merchandisers, showing an advance of 0.5%.
Furniture and home furnishings stores were the biggest losers, slumping 1.6%, followed by sporting goods, hobby, and book & music stores down 0.9%.