SWAMPSCOTT, Massachusetts: Retail sales rose by 0.7% in the US in February, but this growth was almost entirely dependent on Wal-Mart, which posted an increase of 5.1%, without which industry sales would have fallen by just over 4%, according to Retail Metrics
The rise of discount retailers has been one of the major features of the downturn, both in the US and Europe, and Wal-Mart has been of the main beneficiaries of this trend.

Alongside an increase in food sales, which contribute around 40% of its total revenues, Wal-Mart posted gains in discretionary product sectors such as home products such as furniture and bedding last month.

Sales growth was also reported by discounters including BJ's Wholesale Club, where revenues were up by 11.5%, Costco, which saw sales rise by 4%, and Family Dollar Stores, up 6.4%.

Thomson Reuters estimates total sales at discount stores rose by 2.9% in February, with department stores down by 9%, children's retailers by 8.1% and apparel chains by 5.6%, though these figures were still an improvement on the declines in January.

Department store chain Macy's saw same-store sales fall 8.5% for the month, with Saks down 26%, with Kohl's and Target posting more modest declines, of 1.6% and 4.1% respectively.

Bob Drbul, retail analyst and managing director at Barclays Capital, said that despite the fact figures continued to fall, "it seems that we are starting to see less negative trends."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff