US retail sales soar nearly 3 percent
US retail sales soared 2.7 percent from July to August, boosted in part by an unexpected surge of spending at general merchandise and clothing stores.Skip to next paragraph
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More than half of the boost came from the successful "cash for clunkers" program, which temporarily boosted car sales, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. Other factors were higher service-station sales, boosted by a rise in gasoline prices last month, as well as a slight increase in food sales.
Stripping out all those sectors, sales rose 0.6 percent – the first such gain in six months, calculates Paul Dales, an economist with Capital Economics, in a written analysis. General merchandise stores saw a 1.6 percent rise and clothing and clothing-accessory stores realized a 2.4 percent monthly gain.
Despite these stronger-than-expected numbers, many analysts remain cautious that a real revival of consumer spending is under way.
"These are volatile data, and we would not advise making too much of a single month’s move," writes Joshua Shapiro, an economist at MFR Inc., in an analysis. "September will see a sharp drop in automotive sales, and the gasoline component is unlikely to add much, if anything, to nominal sales."