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NRF: August retail sales indicate caution

Washington D.C. - Consumers curbed their spending somewhat in August, resulting in strong year-over-year retail sales growth in the month but modest month-to-month gains, said the National Retail Federation.

The new findings signal "a slight resistance from consumers who may be exhibiting signs of spending fatigue," the NRF warned, reporting August retail industry sales - which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants -increased 0.1% seasonally adjusted over July and 6.0% unadjusted year-over-year.

August retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales - which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants - increased 0.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and a solid 9.0% unadjusted year-over-year.

"Consumer spending in August was tempered by a continued lack of confidence in the strength of our economy," said NRF president and ceo Matthew Shay. "Having carried the brunt of the economic recovery so far, consumers may be waiting for good news in terms of employment and market stability, cautiously spending on things they need and thinking twice about things they want."

Added NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz: "August retail sales mirror August employment figures - zero growth. Consumer spending has stalled, and it will be important for consumers to see positive changes in the economic outlook going into the fourth quarter. While we're not expecting a complete pull back in spending, the outlook remains modest in terms of growth."

For back to school, consumers stocked up electronics and books - sales at electronic and appliance stores increased 0.5% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 2.5% unadjusted from last year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores' sales increased 2.4% seasonally adjusted over July and 9.3% unadjusted year-over-year.

Health and personal care stores sales increased 0.2% seasonally adjusted over July and 5.4% unadjusted year-over-year.

Building material and garden equipment and supplies stores sales increased 0.2% seasonally adjusted over the previous month and 9.0% unadjusted year-over-year.

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