U.S. retail sales probably climbed in February by the most in four months, spurred by job growth and more seasonable temperatures, economists said before a report this week.
The projected 1 percent gain would follow a 0.3 percent January increase, according to the median forecast of 63 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News ahead of Commerce Department figures March 11. Other reports may show the trade deficit widened in January and consumer confidence fell this month as gasoline prices rose.
J.C. Penney and Macy’s Inc. were among retailers that topped analysts’ sales estimates, a sign household spending regained momentum after a weather-restrained January. While higher fuel costs may be concerning Americans, bigger paychecks thanks to the tax compromise reached by President Barak Obama and congressional Republicans are probably preventing demand from slipping for now.
“Chain-store sales did well, automobile sales improved sharply and employment bounced back” last month, said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Masschusetts. “Households may have realized that they have some extra cash in their pockets due to this year’s cut in the payroll tax.”
Retail sales excluding automobiles and service stations rose 0.4 percent in February, the most in three months and twice the January gain, according to the Bloomberg survey.