In a news release that would have been blamed on delayed tax refunds and "the weather" if it was a miss, but confirms a stronger consumer if it beat, and denies everything Wal Mart was warning about regarding February sales, today's retail sales just came stronger than expected in both the headline print (+1.1%, on expectations of a +0.5% rise), the Ex-Autos (+1.0%, Exp. 0.5%), and the Ex-autos and gas (0.4%, Exp. 0.2%). All of this of course was on a seasonally-adjusted basis (more on this shortly). This was the biggest beat of expectations since October 2011, and the biggest monthly rise in five months. The number was driven by a 5.0% jump in gasoline station sales, a 1.8% increase in Miscellaneous store retailers, a 1.6% rise in non-store retailers and a 1.1% increase in the broad retail and food services category. Declines were noted in Furniture stores (-1.6%), Electronics and Appliance stores (-0.2%), and Sporting goods and music stores (-0.9%). So on the surface all was good. The seasonally adjusted surface. because the unadjusted headline number in February actually posted the first sequential decline since 2010, as retail sales declined from $382.4 billion to $381.0 billion: this was the first sequential decline in retail sales in the month of February in three years. Yet somehow the decline actually translated into a growth of $4.4 billion on an adjusted basis, meaning the entire beat was, once more, purely in the calendar adjustment.