February retail sales slip as auto, gas purchases fade

U.S. consumers spent less at auto dealers, gas stations and department stores in February, causing overall retail sales to slip 0.1 percent.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that sales have declined for the past three months, but they're still 4 percent higher from a year ago. Shoppers have opened 2018 with a cold spell after robust spending gains in the months leading up to the holidays.

Auto sales fell 0.9 percent last month, while purchases at gas stations tumbled 1.2 percent. Sales at department stores declined 0.9 percent.

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