Retail Sales Stagnant in February

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Retail Sales Stagnant in February

WASHINGTON -- Sales at retailers in February increased 0.1 percent, as poor weather kept shoppers at bay, The Associated Press reported.

The Commerce Department reported the slight increase compared to January sales, which were flat as consumers recuperated after a strong buying over the holidays, the report stated.

Spending was cut on a wide range of products, including home furnishings, building and garden supplies, clothing, electronics and appliances, sporting goods and books and music. In addition, dining-out occasions decreased as well, down 1.2 percent -- the biggest since September of 2003.

Excluding auto sales, sales at all other merchants dipped by 0.1 percent, the worst performance since October, the AP reported. Auto sales seemed to be the winner for February, as they increased by 0.9 percent, following a decrease of the same amount the month prior.

The 0.1 percent increase was weaker than economists forecasted. Sales were expected to rise 0.3 percent, the report stated. Economists are still optimistic that consumers will continue spending and avoid a recession, because the job market is still healthy and paychecks are rising more than inflation, leaving people with more money to spend, according to the AP.

However, there are risks that might affect the economy and consumers' confidence. A continuing decline in the housing market and increasing gas prices pose a threat to confidence levels. An unanticipated jump in prices could jar consumers and the overall economy, the report stated.