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Retailers report modest sales gains for February

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Retailers are reporting modest sales gains for February as consumers, uninspired by cool weather and worried about the economy, shopped cautiously for spring merchandise.

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By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO

AP Retail Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Retailers are reporting modest sales gains for February as consumers, uninspired by cool weather and worried about the economy, shopped cautiously for spring merchandise.

Overall, 15 retailers reported on Thursday that revenue at stores open at least a year - a key indicator of retail health - rose an average of 1.7 percent. That number comes from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

It is a sharp slowdown from the 4.5 percent pace in January when shoppers splurged on holiday clearances.

Costco Wholesale Corp. reported strong sales that beat analysts' expectations, but several other chains such as Ross Stores Inc. and Fred's Inc. posted declines.

Economists closely monitor consumer spending because it accounts for more than 70 percent of economic activity.

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