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US retail sector grows for 6th straight month in July

[WASHINGTON] American consumers dipped deeper into their pockets in July, increasing spending for the sixth month in a row and getting the third quarter off to a healthy start, the government reported Wednesday.

Sales rose sharply at clothing stores, restaurants, bars and even long-suffering department stores, the Commerce Department said in a monthly report.

Motorists also bought more gasoline at the height of the summer driving season.

The increases should support continued robust economic growth in the third quarter, which economists say is still likely to be much slower than it was in the second.

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Overall retail sales rose 0.5 per cent for the month to $507.5 billion, overshooting analyst forecasts, which had called for a token 0.1 percent increase.

This put sales up a solid 6.4 per cent over July of last year.

Excluding the volatile auto and gasoline sectors, retail sales rose an even faster 0.6 per cent, double what economists had predicted and the seventh straight month of increases.

Sales of cars and light trucks rose 0.2 per cent, adding to June's 0.1 per cent increase.

Not all retailers saw gains, however: sales of furniture, as well as at health and personal care and sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores all fell.

Online retailers like Amazon saw sales continue to rise, adding 0.8 per cent over June and 8.7 per cent over July of 2017.

AFP

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