Washington - Retail sales of consumer electronics and major appliances totaled nearly $9 billion in February, according to the U.S. Commerce Department's latest monthly tallies.
Revenue at CE and appliance stores rose 3.7 percent from January but decreased 1.6 percent year over year, based on the Commerce Department's seasonally adjusted sales figures.
By contrast, sales at furniture and home-furnishings stores increased 0.7 percent over January and decreased 2.1 percent year over year.
Total retail sales, excluding car dealers, gas stations and restaurants, increased 1.0 percent seasonally adjusted over January and 1.7 percent unadjusted year over year.
Credit Suisse retail analyst Gary Balter attributed the CE gains to a later start for Super Bowl as well as improving underlying trends, as year-over-year comparisons continue to improve each month.
Rosalind Wells, chief economist for the National Retail Federation (NRF), a trade association, said severe wintry weather that affected most of the nation last month may have actually aided retail sales. "February could be the direct result of cabin fever with consumers eager to get some fresh air and enjoy a day of shopping," she observed.
NRF expects the sales increases to continue, Wells said, although "high unemployment and other economic factors will restrain consumers' ability to splurge on discretionary items."