US retail sales unexpectedly jump in sign of resilient demand

  • Catherine Jones, 7, left, looks over pants while shopping with grandmother Marylyn Smith, mother Cheryl Jones and sister Eveline, 6, during Connecticut’s Sales Tax Free Week at Boscov’s in the Meriden Mall on Aug. 17. (Dave Zajac/Record-Journal via AP)

U.S. retail sales rose unexpectedly in August as a pickup in purchases across most categories more than offset weakness at auto dealers, showing resilient consumer demand for merchandise.

The value of overall retail purchases climbed 0.7% last month following a downwardly revised 1.8% decrease in July, Commerce Department figures showed Thursday. Excluding autos, sales advanced 1.8% in August, the largest gain in five months.

The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 0.7% decline in overall retail sales, with forecasts ranging from a 3.3% drop to a 1.1% gain.

U.S. stock-index futures pared losses and bonds slipped after the report.

The surprising improvement in sales, underpinned in part by back-to-school shopping and payments for millions of families with children, suggests healthy demand for goods. The report showed firmer receipts

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