WASHINGTON - Retail sales were up 1.1% in February after rising 0.6% in January, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

The February gain was greater than the 1.0% median increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

On a year-over-year unadjusted basis, retail sales were up 6.5% from February 2011.

Excluding autos, retail sales were up 0.9% in February after climbing a revised 1.1% in January.

Economists had projected a 0.7% gain for retail sales excluding autos.

Excluding autos and gas, retail sales rose 0.6% in February following a revised 1.0% gain the previous month.

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