Retail Sales Increase By Largest Amount in 3 Years
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - U.S. retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 2.7% in August, the biggest increase in more than three years (see chart above), boosted by government subsidies for cars, higher gas prices, and busy crowds at the malls, the Commerce Department estimated Tuesday. Sales were stronger than the 2.3% expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch, largely because of widespread sales gains outside the gas stations and the auto lots.
The strong August sales will probably boost consumer spending in the third quarter, and help the economy grow for the first time in more than a year, economists say. Sales were strong at traditional mall stores. Sales at general-merchandise stores rose 1.6%, the most in more than two years. Sales at clothing stores rose 2.4%, while sales at stores catering to leisure-time activities, such as sports and reading, rose 2.3%, also a two-year high.