Make us your home page
Instagram

Retail sales rebound in February

WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales bounced back in February after suffering a steep decline during a bitterly cold January. Shoppers spent more on autos, clothing and furniture.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that seasonally adjusted retail sales rose 0.3 percent in February. Spending had fallen 0.6 percent in January, revised down from the 0.4 percent decline initially reported. Retail spending also fell 0.3 percent in December.

The increase suggests that consumer spending has started to recover after being tempered by snowstorms and freezing temperatures that blanketed much of the country.

Auto sales rose 0.3 percent. Excluding volatile spending on autos, gas and building supplies, retail sales increased 0.3 percent from December.

Last month's rebound almost brought retail spending back to its December levels. Purchases at restaurants, online retailers and department stores also improved, although the economy has yet to fully shake off winter's impact. Many economists came into 2014 projecting that stronger consumer spending would cause growth to accelerate, only to find those estimates frustrated by freezing weather across the country.

Over the past 12 months, retail sales have risen a modest 1.5 percent.

But the improvement in retail spending has not led to more work at stores. Retailers cut 4,100 workers in February. The losses were concentrated in electronics, department, sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores.

Separate sales reports by auto companies indicate that consumer demand may improve in the spring. Consumers bought just under 1.2 million new cars and trucks in February, according to motor vehicle makers. That follows a 3 percent drop in January — the first year-over-year decline since August 2010.

General Motors, Ford and Toyota each reported sales declines for February. The country's top three automakers said sales began to recover in the second half of last month, when the weather improved.

So far this year, new vehicle sales have been on pace to reach a little more than 15 million for the year. Last year, the industry sold 15.6 million cars and trucks. Economists forecast that auto purchases will approach 16 million this year.

Markets plunge

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 231.19 points, or 1.4 percent, to 16,108.89 on Thursday, its biggest decline in six weeks, as investors reacted to discouraging economic reports from China and intensifying tensions in Ukraine. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 21.86 points, or 1.2 percent, to close at 1,846.34, while the Nasdaq composite dropped 62.91 points, or 1.5 percent, to 4,260.42.

Retail sales rebound in February 03/13/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 6:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]