In February retail sales rose, with auto sales rising more than 25% from the same month last year.
The Commerce Department said retail and food services sales rose 1% from January, to their highest levels since October.
Economists had expected sales to rise 0.7%.
The numbers came a month after severe snow storms gripped large parts of the country, and after solid gains in the final quarter of 2010.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011