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Economists encouraged by retail sales report

10 months ago July 15, 2014 Jul 15, 2014 Tuesday, July 15 2014 Tuesday, July 15, 2014 12:15:16 PM EDT in News
Source: Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The retail sales numbers for June indicate that consumers are still cautious, despite steady job gains this year.

The Commerce Department says sales rose by just two-tenths of one percent last month, held back by a sharp drop at building and garden supply stores. Sales also fell at restaurants and at auto dealers.

Still, economists are encouraged by some of the details in the report. A measure of retail sales that doesn't count fluctuating categories like gasoline and autos rose by a solid 0.6 percent. Clothing stores, sporting goods stores and department stores all recorded decent sales gains. And a category that includes online and catalog retailers jumped 0.9 percent in June. It's increased 8.1 percent in the past 12 months.

Most analysts now believe the economy expanded at about a 3 percent annual pace in the April-June quarter. And that's a forecast that was little changed by the retail sales report. It's not as strong a showing as many economists had hoped following a weak first quarter, when the economy shrank by 2.9 percent.

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