Retail sales rose 1 percent to 9.86 trillion yen in February compared with the previous year as fuel prices continued to rise and new minivehicles sold well, the government said in a preliminary report Wednesday.

The uptick came after retail sales fell 0.4 percent in January.

“Although a modest recovery has been seen, the trend seems to be flat,” the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said, maintaining its basic assessment for retail sales. METI has been using the same phrase since October.

In the reporting month, retail sales of fuels, including kerosene and gasoline, soared 10.9 percent on surging crude oil prices, while those of cars gained 2.9 percent for the first rise in eight months on the back of robust minivehicle sales, a METI official said.

Warm weather in late February pushed up retail sales at drugstores and do-it-yourself shops by 3.5 percent, but sales of clothing, accessories and machinery and equipment fell.

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