SALES UP: Retail sales rose 0.3 percent last month to $381.6 billion, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Demand rose at department stores, electronic stores and auto dealerships.

BELOW EXPECTATIONS: Snowstorms limited the spending gains expected from workers with more money in their paychecks from a Social Security tax cut. Americans spent less at restaurants and on clothing while paying higher prices for gas.

OUTLOOK: Economists predict consumer spending will keep rising in coming months, although some caution that it will rise more slowly than at the end of last year, even with the tax cut.