Retail sales in the U.S. continued to increase in the month of August, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday, although the pace of growth fell well short of economist estimates.
The Commerce Department said retail sales rose by 0.6 percent in August after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.9 percent in July.
Economists had expected retail sales to surge up by 1.0 percent compared to the 1.2 percent jump originally reported for the previous month.
Excluding sales by motor vehicles and parts retailers, retail sales climbed by 0.7 percent in August after leaping by a downwardly revised 1.3 percent in July.
Ex-auto sales were expected to increase by 0.9 percent compared to the 1.9 percent spike originally reported for the previous month.
The continued retail sales growth in August partly reflected sharp increases in sales by food services and drinking places, clothing and accessories stores, furniture and home furnishings stores and building materials and supplies dealers.
However, the report said closely watched core retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, edged down by 0.1 percent in August after climbing by 0.9 percent in July.
The dip in core sales partly reflected a 5.7 percent plunge in sales by sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores as well as a 2.3 percent slump in sales by department stores.
“Consumers are being increasingly cautious with their outlays as the summer comes to a close,” said Gregory Daco, Chief U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
He added, “If Congress is unable to extend fiscal aid to US households in the coming weeks, the US economy will be particularly susceptible to a cutback in consumer outlays – especially from the lowest income families.”
Nonetheless, Daco noted retail sales are 1.9 percent above their pre-Covid levels, while the Commerce Department said retail sales in August were up by 2.6 percent compared to the same month a year ago.
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