WASHINGTON-US consumers recover in their expenses in August and breathed after a very strong sales trend in July.
Sales in stores and restaurants rose 0.1% from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted $ 509 billion in August, the Ministry of Trade said Friday.
It was well below the 0.4% increase economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected. Compared with August the year before, sales increased by 6.6%.
Nevertheless, the revised information showed that retail trade increased 0.7% in July, from an initial 0.5% increase.
"Equalization through the monthly gyrations, the retail is rocking and rolling," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities, in an analyst note.
The overall weakness in August was largely due to a decrease in auto turnover. Sales of vehicle and retailers decreased 0.8% from the previous month.
Excluding motor vehicles, sales increased by 0.3% in August, with the exception of gasoline, sales fell by 0.1
Consumer spending is an important driving force for the US economy, which represents about two thirds of economic output.
Expenses in grocery stores were flat during the month and Americans increased their spending on bars and restaurants just slightly, by 0.2%.
Gas prices for US drivers were on average $ 2.84 per liter in August, down 1 cents from July, according to the US Energy Information Administration, and consumers spent more on gas stations. In August sales at gas stations increased by 1.7% and increased by 20.3% from the previous year.
Retail can be volatile from month to month. Sales in department stores decreased by 1% in August and sales of clothing stores fell by 1.7%.
Sales from non-retailers, such as online purchases or mail order catalogs, increased by 0.7% and were 10.4% compared with August last year.
Online sales helped increase retailers in the second quarter, which was characterized by robust consumer spending.
All reported strong sales for the quarter.
One of the last major dealers to report results,
, said Thursday's sales rose less than expected in its last quarter. The largest US supermarket chain of stores and sales said it would sacrifice profits to continue investing in online ordering and other services to compete with
and Walmart Inc.
"We make these investments and they are significant and significant," said Rodger McMullen, CEO in an interview to compete digitally.
Friday's report from the trade department suggests that consumption spending continued to be strong at the beginning of the third quarter but that they could be cooled down and the hurricane who landed on the North Carolina shore early Friday could dampen retail sales.
"Hurricane Florence can skew the figures for September, with pre-storm purchases, lowers sales in immediate succession, and will therefore be back during the recovery phase," says Gus Faucher, CFO at PNC Financial Services Group, in a note to customers.
The Federal Reserve looks closely at consumer spending as a meter of economic growth, and Fed officials pointed to a consumer spending recovery as a factor in its decision to raise interest rates in June to range between 1.75% and 2%. They are expected to raise interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point again later this month.
-Heter Haddon contributed to this article.
Write to Harriet Torry at email@example.com