February retail sales show biggest gain in four months

NEW YORK — U.S. retail sales rose 1% in February, boosted by job gains, the tax cut and more seasonable temperatures, the Commerce Department reported Friday. It was the highest gain in four months. Sales excluding autos increased 0.7%.

The 1% increase followed a revised 0.7% rise in January that was more than double the previous estimate, according to Commerce Department figures.

Ten-of-13 major categories showed an increase in demand last month, which included gains at department stores and electronics retailers. Department store sales increased 1% after a 0.4% decrease in January. Sales at specialty clothing stores rose 0.8%. Purchases at stores selling electronics and appliances rose 0.9% after a 0.2% drop. Sales at restaurants climbed 1.2% the most in a year.

Online shopping, which had benefited from the bad weather in January, showed a 0.3% dip in February.