US retail sales rise 0.6 per cent in August

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans stepped up retail spending modestly from July to August as the price of gasoline jumped, cutting into budgets as many families send their kids off to school.

Retail sales rose 0.6 per cent in August, compared with a revised 0.5 per cent increase in July, according to a report issued by the Commerce Department on Thursday.

The big rise in gas prices accounted for more than half of the inflation increase recorded in August, the US reported Wednesday.

Excluding gas, retail sales were just up 0.2 per cent, according to the report.

Sales at gas stations rose a robust 5.2 per cent, while furniture and home furnishings stores saw a 1 per cent drop in sales. Clothing and accessories stores had a 0.9% gain. Restaurants saw a 0.3 per cent increase. Grocery stores had a 0.4 per cent increase.

The uptick in retail sales reflects the economy’s resiliency despite a still tough economic environment. Yet spending has been volatile this year after surging nearly 3 per cent in January. Sales tumbled in February and March before recovering in the spring and summer.