Retail Sales Bounce Back In July With Largest Gain In 5 Months [View all]
Americans spent more time in stores last month than expected, lessening some worries that a key part of the economy was slowing.
Retail sales in July climbed 0.8% from a month earlier to $403.9 million. Analysts predicted sales would rise only 0.3%. This was the largest increase since last February. The gain reverses a slide in retail sales, as consumers cut back on spending amid worrying economic signs. In June, for context, retail sales fell 0.5%.
The surge in shopping meant crowded stores across retail. Sales of building materials rose 1%. Receipts for autos gained 0.8%. And sales at sporting-goods retailers increased 1%.
Economists pay close attention to retail sales, hoping for a sense of emboldened consumers. When retail sales fell in the second quarter, GDP growth declined in tandem: consumer spending is by far the largest drive of economic growth in the U.S. Any signs that spending will strengthen will boost forecasts for third-quarter GDP.