Consumers were cautious in February, pushing up retail sales a modest 0.1%, government data showed March 13. The Commerce Department's report on retail sales, a key component of economic activity, was weaker than the 0.3% rise expected by Wall Street analysts.
Excluding the often volatile auto sector, retail sales fell 0.1% for the month. The report followed January retail sales that were essentially flat, and up a revised 0.2% excluding autos.
Over the past 12 months, overall retail sales are up 3.2% or 3.1% excluding the auto sector.
Economists have been watching to see whether downturns in housing and auto manufacturing will impact consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007