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WASHINGTON - U.S. retail sales increased 0.6 percent in August, a figure that was weaker than expected despite government tax relief.
Total retail purchases reached $319.2 billion, the Commerce Department said today. Excluding gasoline and auto sales, retail sales would have advanced by 0.4 percent, a figure economists say is a better gauge of consumer spending.
The August retail sales report showed that sales rose in some categories but fell in others.
Grocery stores advanced by 0.3 percent for the month. Sales at general merchandise stores rose by 1.1 percent, while sales at clothing stores tumbled by 1.4 percent. Sales at gasoline stations climbed by 2.7 percent.
On a year-over-year basis, retail sales were up by 5.4 percent in August.