Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported a higher-than-expected 5.1 percent rise in February sales at U.S. stores open at least a year, saying lower gas prices meant shoppers had more money to spend in its discount stores.

We believe falling gas prices significantly boosted household disposable income in February and therefore allowed for both more trips and more spending toward discretionary categories, Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said in a statement on Thursday.

The world's biggest retailer said net sales in the month ended on February 27 rose 2.8 percent to $30.02 billion.

Last month, Wal-Mart said that it would no longer provide monthly sales forecasts. Instead, it said it would give forecasts on a 13-week basis, four times a year.

For the period from January 31 through May 1, Wal-Mart said it expected U.S. comparable sales, excluding fuel, to increase between 1 percent and 3 percent.

(Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)