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Report: U.S. Retail Sales Up Slightly for June

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July 15, 2014 by   Leave a Comment

U.S. retail sales increased slightly in June, evidence that consumers remain cautious despite steady job gains this year.

Retail sales rose just 0.2% last month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday (July 15), held back by a sharp drop at building materials and garden supply stores. Sales also fell at restaurants and at auto dealers.

The figures suggest that Americans are reluctant to spend freely, which could slow growth in the April-June quarter. While employers have stepped up hiring since January, wage growth remains weak and is barely keeping up with inflation. Retail sales are closely watched because consumer spending accounts for 70% of the economy.

Still, there were some good signs: A measure of retail sales that excludes volatile categories such as gasoline and autos rose at a solid 0.6% clip. Clothing stores, sporting goods stores and department stores all recorded sales gains. And a category that includes online and catalog retailers jumped 0.9% in June and has increased 8.1% in the past 12 months. That’s nearly double the 4.3% growth in overall retail sales in the past year.

Sales at auto dealers fell 0.3%, which contradicts strong data released by the automakers themselves earlier this month. The automakers had said sales reached an eight-year high in June. The two sets of data can sometimes conflict on a month-to-month basis.

Retail sales were revised higher in May to 0.5 percent from 0.3 percent, and in April to 0.6% from 0.5%.

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