Retail sales rise in despite weather, says Commerce Department

Consumer spending picked up in February both monthly and annually in one of the most recent signs of a substantial economic recovery, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

In a new report released Friday by the department’s Census Bureau, seasonally adjusted retail and food sales increased by 0.3 percent in February to hit $355.5 billion. In addition to increasing upon January’s figures, the new data also represented a 3.9 percent increase over numbers from February 2009.

In a report commenting on the retail gains, the Retail Industry Leaders Association said that the data, when combined with an improving gross domestic product and a recovering job market, was yet another sign that the country finally seemed to be finding its way out of the prolonged economic downturn it has been in since 2007.

“The retail industry has customarily been the market gauge by which economic recovery is measured and, as a result, today’s report is certainly welcome news that recovery is underway,” said RILA President Sandy Kennedy.

The report also found that gasoline sales increased 24.0 percent while non-store retailers saw sales jump 11.8 percent in February compared to data from one year ago.