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WASHINGTON - U.S. grocery stores recorded $36.4 billion in sales during February -- a 5.6 percent jump from a year earlier and the largest such gain since April 2003, according to data from the Department of Commerce.
This brought cumulative 2004 grocery store sales to $75.7 billion, which is 5.1 percent more than a year earlier.
Sales at all food and beverage stores during the month came to $40.4 billion, up 6.7 percent from a year ago.
Warehouse club and supercenter sales remained strong in January, the latest month for which data is available. Sales at these formats rose 17.8 percent to $18.0 billion.
Meanwhile, sales at the nation's eating and drinking outlets surged in February to nearly $30 billion, up 14.3 percent from last year. This follows a notable 12.6 percent gain in January that brought cumulative 2004 sales to $59.5 billion. Estimated sales at full service restaurants rose 14.5 percent during the month, while limited or fast food outlets advanced 15.3 percent.