Despite heavy snow in some regions and in contrast to the usual pattern of slower consumer purchasing in the winter, retail sales rose 0.3%, the Commerce Department reported today.
February's figures were 3.9% higher than those of February 2009 and sales from December 2009 through February 2010 were 4.5% higher than the same period last year.
Total retail and food sales in February were $355.5 billion, compared with January's revised figure of $354.3 billion and $342.3 billion in February 2009.
February's numbers showed a 0.8% increase in non-automobile sales from January, but that number represented a 4.2% rise from January 2009.
There was a 2% decline in sales at car, truck, and recreational vehicle dealers and parts stores from January but a 2.1% increase from February 2009. There was a 2.4% decline in the sales of other types of motorized vehicles from January but those sales rose 2.8% from February 2009.
Almost all other types of retailers had increased sales in February. The largest increases were at electronics stores (3%), miscellaneous store retailers (2.5%), and food and beverage and grocery stores (1.3%).
Sales at non-store retailers were unchanged and sales at health/personal care stores declined 0.7%.