US retail sales up just 0.1 pct., weakest gain in 6 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales barely rose in August as shoppers spent less on cars, furniture and clothes.

The Commerce Department says the value of purchases ticked up just 0.1 percent, the smallest increase in six months, after a robust gain of 0.7 percent in July.

The sluggish increase may be a temporary blip, and it partly reflects falling prices for items like clothing. The retail sales figures aren’t adjusted for inflation. Consumer confidence soared to the highest level in 18 years in August, as Americans reported a more optimistic outlook on future economic growth. That suggests that retail sales may rebound in September.

Still, auto sales fell 0.8 percent last month, and clothing stores sales plunged 1.7 percent, the steepest drop in 18 months.

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