The Commerce Department announced that retail sales declined 0.1 percent from January, better than the 0.5 percent drop that economists had expected. The decline marks a returning to negative territory after sales rose 1.8 percent in January.
Not including automobiles, which dragged down the overall number, sales increased 0.7 percent after a 1.6 percent gain in January, according to The New York Times.
The report shows that a decline in gasoline prices in February, giving consumers more disposable income, helped sales. Among retail sectors, discount chains were up again. Far more surprising, however, was the reported rise in sales at furniture stores.
“This tells us is the consumer is not dead,” Paul Laudicina, chairman of A. T. Kearney, a management consulting company, told The Times. “They are able to pick through and make purchases when necessary. And they are prepared to come out of the foxhole when the conditions permit them to.”