Updated: March 13, 2013 9:18AM
WASHINGTON — Americans spent at the fastest pace in five months in February, boosting retail spending 1.1 percent compared with January. About half the jump reflected higher gas prices, but even excluding gas purchases, retail sales rose 0.6 percent.
The report from the Commerce Department shows that Americans kept spending last month despite higher Social Security taxes that took effect this year. The retail sales report is the government’s first look each month at consumer spending, which drives about 70 percent of economic activity.
Core retail sales, which exclude gas, autos and building supply store sales, rose 0.4 percent in February compared with January.