Retail sales increased 0.7% in July, better than expected as consumer spending is holding up

Consumer spending held up well in July as inflation slowed, with retail sales turning in a stronger than expected showing for the month, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

The advanced retail sales report showed a seasonally adjusted increase of 0.7% for the month, better than the 0.4% Dow Jones estimate. Excluding autos, sales rose a robust 1%, also against a 0.4% forecast.

As the numbers are not adjusted for inflation, they showed a consumer able to keep ahead of price increases that have been prevalent over the past two years. The consumer price index rose 0.2% on the month, indicating solid demand.

July’s numbers were boosted by a 1.9% jump in spending at online retailers, while sporting goods and related stores increased 1.5% and food service and drinking places rose 1.4%.

On the downside, furniture sales slumped 1.8% and electronics and appliance stores reported a 1.3% drop. Gas station sales rose just 0.4% on the month despite rising prices at the pump.

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