US retail sales dipped 0.2 pct. in August as auto sales fell

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumers cut back on their shopping in August by the largest amount in six months as a big drop in auto sales offset gains in other areas.
The Commerce Department says retail sales fell 0.2 percent after a 0.3 percent gain in July. It was the biggest one-month decline since sales fell a similar 0.2 percent in February. Auto sales sank 1.6 percent in August, the biggest drop in seven months.
Excluding autos, sales posted a 0.2 percent rise last month. Demand rose at general merchandise stores, a category that includes big-box retailers such as Target. Rising gasoline prices also boosted sales.
Economists had expected a weaker August sales report. But they remain confident that a healthy labor market will boost consumer spending in coming months.

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