March 12, 2009

Retail sales drop ahead of expectations

U.S. retail sales for food and services declined in February but far less than economists forecast, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday.

Advanced figures of sales for food services and retail dropped 0.1 percent in the month, coming in at $346.8 billion, the report said. Analysts had expected drop of 0.5 percent.

In addition, sales grew 0.7 percent if vehicle sales were removed from the equation, beating a forecast that called for a 0.2 percent drop in sales figured without car sales.

Gasoline sales also pushed the figure up, but with gas and car sales taken out, sales still rose 0.5 percent.

From February 2008, sales have dropped 9.8 percent. Gasoline station sales are down 32.3 percent from a year ago and automobile sales down 23.5 percent from February 2008.

Electronics and appliance store sales held up in the month, gaining 1.2 percent. Clothing store sales gained 2.8 percent from a month ago.

Grocery store sales, up 0.3 percent from a year ago, fell 1 percent in the month, the report said.

The figures, listed as advanced, could be adjusted in next month's report.