Sales at U.S. retailers slumped in February for the third month in a row, a sign that Americans more likely pocketed the money they saved from a plunge in gasoline prices that took place from July through January. Most stores fared poorly in February, though particularly bad weather almost certainly contributed. Retail sales fell by a seasonally adjusted 0.6% last month after a 0.8% drop in January and a 0.9% decline in December. Sales fell even though gasoline stations posted their first increase since last May. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.3% increase in overall retail sales. Sales minus autos dipped 0.1%, but sales minus gasoline dropped an even steeper 0.8%, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The only retail segments to post gains were gas stations, grocery stores, Internet purveyors and stores that sell sporting goods, books and music.
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