March 13, 2012 8:45 AM, EDT

Retail Sales Rise 1.1%; Gain Is Most in Five Months

Larry Smith/Trans Pixs

Retail sales rose 1.1% in February, the biggest gain in five months, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

The increase followed a 0.6% gain in January that was larger than the 0.4% originally forecast.

The February gain matched economists’ forecasts, Bloomberg reported.

Demand improved in 11 of 13 categories, including automobile dealers and clothing stores.

Auto dealers’ sales rose 1.6%, turning around a 1.6% drop in January, as automobile sales sold at the fastest pace in four years. Purchases excluding autos rose 0.9%.

Almost all trucking operations depend on the health of retail sales because such sales involve nearly every type of cargo.