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Gas prices pump up retail sales

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 01:40

March 13 - U.S. retail sales jumped 1.1 percent in February as American consumers spent more at the pump, but were still willing to buy other goods, in a sign of growing consumer confidence. Carmen Roberts reports.

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Americans went shopping in February, pushing U.S. retail sales up the most in five months; important because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. Sales jumped 1.1 percent as consumers bought a range of goods, snapped up autos, and had to spend more to fill them up at the pump. Gasoline sales surged making up 11.5 percent of retail sales last month. Dunham and Associates' economist John Dunham: SOUNDBITE: JOHN DUNHAM, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DUNHAM AND ASSOCIATES (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There's not a whole lot of what economists call elasticity in spending for fuel. If you got to drive 20 miles to work, you got to drive 20 miles to work. So as prices of gasoline rise people have to spend more on gasoline, and that shows up in the consumer spending numbers. You're going to see consumer expenditures rise simply because gasoline prices are rising." Autos sales jumped 1.6 percent, as consumers put a dent in pent-up demand for autos brought on by last year's Tsunami in Japan that disrupted auto production. Outside rising gas prices, consumers are feeling more confident in the economy as job creation speeds up, and retailers got a boost from unseasonably mild weather that had shoppers filling malls across the country. Still, some experts question whether consumers will keep up this level of spending, if the recent rate of job growth slows. Carmen Roberts, Reuters

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Gas prices pump up retail sales

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 01:40