Retail sales posted a surprising increase in February as consumers did not let major snowstorms stop them from storming the malls.
The advance, the biggest since November, provided hope that the recovery from the Great Recession is gaining momentum.
The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.3 percent in February, surpassing expectations that sales would decline by 0.2
The overall gain was held back by a 2 percent fall in auto sales, reflecting in part the recall problems at Toyota. Excluding autos, sales rose 0.8 percent, far better than the 0.1 percent rise outside of autos that economists had forecast.
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