AP: February Retail Sales Fall 1.6 Percent; Reuters: Retail Sales Plunge in February
From the AP account:
WASHINGTON - War worries and snow storms kept shoppers away from the stores, driving down sales at the nations' retailers by 1.6 percent in February. The worst showing in 15 months was another ominous sign for the sputtering economy.
The drop in sales reported by the Commerce Department (news - web sites) Thursday marked a big pullback by consumers from January, when sales rose by a modest 0.3 percent. The weakness in February was widespread, with losses reported for automobile dealers, electronics and appliance stores, apparel shops and other merchants. Building and garden supply stores posted a record drop in sales.
February's retail sales were weaker than economists were expecting. They were forecasting sales to fall by 0.5 percent.
The disappointing retail sales report, along with a troubling employment report released by the government last week, may heighten concerns that the economy could again fall into recession.
...and more from Reuters: Jobless Claims Show Jobs Market Ailing
The ranks of U.S. workers lining up for first-time jobless benefits thinned a bit last week but remained at levels suggesting a still stagnant labor market, a government report on Thursday showed.
At the same time, the number of unemployed workers who continued to file for benefits after making an initial claim rose to its highest level in 3-1/2 months, the Labor Department said.