Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores edged up 0.4% on January

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores edged up 0.4% on January

Signs that US consumers have weathered the severe winter storms that battered the country last month are being seen in a rebound in February retail sales - which includes growth at clothing stores.

The latest figures from the US Department of Commerce showed retail sales (which include cars, gasoline and restaurants) climbed 0.3% from January and were up 1.3% year-on-year.

During the month, sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores edged up 0.4% month-on-month, and grew 2.6% year-on-year.

For general merchandise stores, however, sales slipped 0.3% month-on-month and dropped 0.8% year-on-year. Department store sales rose 0.7% on the month before, but fell 4.8% year-on-year.

And at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, sales grew 2.5% month-on-month, but declined 5.2% on February last year.

Separate figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF), which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, found February retail sales were up 0.2% on January and increased 2.3% year-on-year.

"Today's positive retail sales report indicates that the economy is primed for growth," said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.

"Retailers and consumers endured the harsh winter and they're hoping both the natural and man-made obstacles to growth will leave with the snow."

But he warned: "From new overtime mandates to persistent and political posturing on the minimum wage, retailers continue to face serious headwinds placed on them by policymakers in Washington. For the economy to fully recover, the Administration and Congress should quit politicking and focus on growth and job creation."

While NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz described the retail sales data as "encouraging and above expectations".

"However neither the jobs nor retail data reflect the fundamental health of the economy. While the weather continues to play tricks on economic forecasts and figures, we expect much-needed clarity come spring as consumers release pent-up demand."