US retail sales rise 0.2 pct. in August; autos, restaurants and groceries fuel increase

WASHINGTON – Americans stepped up their spending on cars, restaurant meals, groceries and clothing in August, suggesting that consumers will help sustain U.S. economic growth despite a broader global slowdown.

The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.2 per cent last month, after advancing 0.7 per cent in July. Sales have increased 2.2 per cent over the past 12 months, as solid hiring has translated into surges in spending at auto dealers and dining establishments.

Both auto retailers and restaurants reported a 0.7 per cent gain in August. Sales at grocers, clothiers, sporting goods stores and online retailers also improved.

Spending at gasoline stations slid 1.8 per cent in August amid cheaper energy prices. The retail sales report also indicated a possible pullback in the housing sector’s momentum, as purchases at furnishers and building supply stores fell.