Retail sales increase 0.3% in February

Retail sales rose 0.3 percent to $427.2 billion in February from the previous month, marking the first increase in the gauge since November, according to the Commerce Department.

The government revised down January sales, showing a 0.6 percent slide from December.

But February’s numbers seemed to suggest that the sales dip was a seasonal phenomenon, reflective of an unusually cold and stormy winter. Sales last month rose 1.5 percent compared to the same month in 2013.

Retail sales are considered to be a key indicator of economic health, as consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy.

Excluding the more volatile effects of motor vehicles and parts sales, retail sales rose 0.3 percent from January and 1.3 percent from a year earlier.

In anticipation of spring, the season for home improvement projects, month-to-month sales of building materials and garden supplies rose 0.3 percent while climbing 3.2 percent from 2013.

The clothing and accessories category, which had lagged behind during the holiday season due in part to lack of innovation, enjoyed a 0.4 percent month-to-month boost in sales. The measure rose 2.6 percent from a year earlier.

Consumers spent 0.1 percent more at gas stations compared to January, but seemed to catch a break over the long term. Sales plunged more than 4 percent from the same period in 2013, reflecting a downward trend in fuel prices.

A gallon of gasoline currently costs an average of $3.50, compared to nearly $3.71 a year ago, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

The government said that sales at health and personal care retailers surged 5.5 percent year over year. But the non-store segment, which includes online sales, proved to be the top performer, with sales booming 6.3 percent from February 2013.

Electronics and appliance stores suffered, slumping 0.2 percent from January and 2.4 percent from a year earlier. Shoppers spent 5.2 percent less year-over-year at sporting goods, hobby, books and music vendors and cut purchases by 4.8 percent at department stores.

More in Herald Business Journal

Teddy, an English bulldog, models Zentek Clothing’s heat regulating dog jacket. (Ian Terry / The Herald)
Everett clothing company keeps your dog cool and stylish

Zentek uses space-age fabrics to moderate the temperature of pets and now humans.

Everett engineers learn lessons from Mexico City catastrophe

Structural scientists went to help after the September earthquake there and studied the damage.

Providence said to be in talks for merger with Ascension

The two Catholic health organizations have been exploring joining forces, sources say.

Hospital companies merge as insurers encroach on their turf

An anticipated deal between Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension is only the latest.

DaVita to sell off medical groups including The Everett Clinic

Another round of health care consolidation means The Everett Clinic could soon get new ownership.

Engine trouble hits Air New Zealand’s 787 Dreamliners

A Rolls-Royce engine was shut down and was afterward found to be seriously damaged.

Washington, Amazon sue company over seller training programs

Braintree is accused of using deceptive ads promising information on how to make money on Amazon.

Lockheed-Martin dominates global arms sales, Boeing is 2nd

The combined sales of U.S.-based companies totaled $217 billion.

The Marine Corps’ version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is designed to land vertically like a helicopter. (Lockheed Martin)
F-35 fighter costs, $1 trillion over 60 years, draw scrutiny

Pentagon’s ability to repair F-35 parts at military depots is six years behind schedule.

Most Read