LOS ANGELES — Drawn by unseasonably warm weather across much of the country, shoppers hit the malls in February with their wallets open and handed retailers a robust start to the spring shopping season.
Major chain stores posted a 4.7 percent sales increase in February compared with the same month a year earlier, beating analysts' expectations of a 3.4 percent rise. Discounters, teen retailers and apparel sellers all posted healthy sales increases, according to Thomson Reuters' tally of 21 retailers.
"February was obviously very encouraging," said Sherif Mityas, a partner in the retail practice at consulting firm A.T. Kearney Inc.
Top performers were a mixture of high- and low-end stores. Teen retailer Buckle led the way with a 14.8 percent bump. Buoyed by a comeback of wealthy shoppers, luxury retailer Nordstrom reported a 10.2 percent increase. Off-price chains TJX Cos. and Ross both reported increases of 9 percent.
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But teen clothier Wet Seal said sales fell 5.8 percent, while Kohl's dropped 0.8 percent.
All told, about 80 percent of retailers beat expectations, Thomson Reuters said.
Results are based on sales at stores open at least a year.