15 Aug 2010

US retail sales up

6:03 am on 15 August 2010

Retail sales in the United States rose in July after two months of declines, largely due to an increase in car sales.

The Commerce Department said total sales climbed 0.4% from the previous month, when sales dropped by a revised 0.3%.

Without the impact of car sales, overall retail sales rose by 0.2%.

The BBC reports US retail sales are seen as a key indicator of the health of the US economy as consumer spending accounts for about 70% of US economic activity.

Sales in July totalled $US362.7 billion and were 5.9% higher than the same month a year earlier.

Car and car parts sales rose by 1.6% from June, while petrol sales grew by 2.3%.

But sales in a number of other key areas, including clothing, electronics and furniture, all fell.

Recent weeks have seen growing concerns about the strength of the US recovery. Although the latest sales figures showed a rise, the BBC reports the increase was not as big as had been expected.

Last week, figures showed that the economy shed 131,000 jobs in July, the second month in a row that jobs have been lost.

Economic growth in the United States slowed between April and June.