Retail sales rise unexpectedly in February - Retail - msnbc.com WASHINGTON - Retail sales posted a surprising increase in February as consumers did not let major snowstorms stop them from racking up purchases. The advance, the biggest since November, provided hope that the recovery from the Great Recession is gaining momentum. Some economists cautioned, though, that spending increases will remain modest as long as wages stay flat and job creation weak. They also noted that the government revised down the increase in retail sales for January. For February, sales rose 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said Friday. That surpassed expectations that sales would decline 0.2 percent.