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US retail sales up 1.2% in July

[WASHINGTON] US retail sales increased 1.2 per cent compared to June, a more modest increase than economists had been expecting, held down by a decline in auto sales, according to government data released Friday.

It was the third straight increase after the 8.4 per cent increase in June, and the gain puts sales 2.7 per cent higher than the same month of 2019, the Commerce Department reported.

But for the first seven months of the year, sales amid the coronavirus pandemic were 2.1 per cent lower than the same period of last year.

Auto sales fell 1.3 per cent compared to June, but excluding that decline, total retail sales rose 1.9 perc ent, according to the data.

Sales of electronics, appliances and clothing all posted solid increases, but some categories that had seen sales explode in the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic showed signs of slowing last month.

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Building and garden supplies fell nearly three per cent, but are up nearly 15 per cent compared to a year ago, while sporting goods, hobby, music and books fell five per cent but are nearly 18 per cent higher than July 2019.

Meanwhile, online retailers saw a modest rebound of 0.7 per cent after a sharp drop in June, but are close to 25 per cent above last year's pace, the report said.


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