This is good news in advance of the Easter shopping season. Reuters:
Retail sales posted their largest gain in five months in February as Americans stepped up purchases of motor vehicles and other goods even as they paid more for gasoline.
Total retail sales increased 1.1 percent, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday, after a 0.6 percent rise in January. The increase was broadly in line with expectations.
Details of the report were fairly upbeat and its tenor was also boosted by upward revisions to the prior months' data, suggesting recent solid gains in employment were helping to cushion consumers against steep rises in gasoline prices.
"The big thing for the consumer is that the labor market has improved and there's income growth. Things look better than six months ago," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities in Stamford, Connecticut.
"There is a risk if gasoline prices continue to rise. That will bite into household budgets."
Stock index futures added slightly to gains, while Treasury debt prices held at lower levels. The dollar maintained gains versus the euro and the yen.
Sales last month were buoyed by a 1.6 percent rise in sales of motor vehicles, reflecting pent-up demand by households and growing confidence in the economy as job creation speeds up.
Inventories were already low so this could be very good news for employment. Currently, employers have been more willing to squeeze more productivity out of workers than turn to new hires. That strategy only works for so long, and despite the increased costs of hiring new workers, many employers may have little choice but to take on new help to meet the demand.