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NRF: Consumers still skittish

Washington – Consumer spending at retail fell 5.0% last month compared to July 2008 and slipped 0.6% from June, the National Retail Federation reported today. NRF’s numbers exclude sale at gas stations, restaurants and automobile dealers.

The U.S. Commerce Department – whose retail sales include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants –today reported a 0.1% decline in sales from June to July, with a 7.9% drop in sales compared to July 2008

“Many families postponed the bulk of their back-to-school shopping this year, possibly waiting to take advantage of their state sales tax holiday or hoping for additional discounts,” said Rosalind Wells, NRF’s chief economist. “Hopefully, retailers’ aggressive promotions and reduced inventory levels will make for a better August and shield retailers from a disappointing season.”

Sales at general merchandise stores fell 0.8% adjusted from the previous month and declined  3.4% unadjusted over last year.  

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