Retail sales jump the most in five months
(Photo Credit: Reed Saxon/AP)
Retail sales in August experienced the biggest jump in five months, in an encouraging sign that the economy is slowly regaining its footing.
The Commerce Department reported that purchases were up 0.4 percent from July to August as consumers returned to department stories, clothing boutiques, sporting good outlets and a wide range of other shops. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a rise of 0.3 percent.
Excluding autos, gasoline and building materials, retail sales jumped 0.6 percent--double what economists had forecast.
Retail outlets and local governments have been aggressively courting customers with tax-free holidays and bigger-than-usual back-to-school discounts. Purchases in eight of 13 major categories of retailers increased. Spending was up 1.2 percent at clothing retailers and 0.4 percent at general merchandise shops.
The August report shows a reversal from the spring and summer, when retail sales seemed to indicate that the economic recovery may be stumbling. But the numbers were not strong enough to indicate that sales will pick up significantly in the second half of the year at a time when unemployment remains high and consumers are still uneasy about about household spending.
The bleakest spot in Tuesday's report was auto sales, which fell 0.7 percent as General Motors, Ford, Toyota and other manufacturers struggle with consumers' reluctance to purchase big-ticket items in a shaky economy.
Ariana Eunjung Cha
September 14, 2010; 9:15 AM ET
Categories: Retail , U.S. Economy
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