NEW YORK –
Americans increased their retail spending slightly in July through August, alongside a rise in gasoline prices, leaving many families feeling budget tight as their children went back to school.
Retail sales rose 0.6% in August, compared with an updated 0.5% increase in July, according to a report released Thursday by the Commerce Department.
A closely watched category of retail sales that excludes auto dealers, gas stations and building materials and influences gross domestic product rose just 0.1% last month from the previous month, after a revised 0.7% increase in July.
The sharp rise in gasoline prices accounted for more than half of the rise in inflation recorded in August, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Rising gasoline prices are weighing on the economy and could slow consumer momentum ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season.
According to a Labor Department report, U.S. wholesale prices — which measure inflation before it reaches consumers — actually rose in August, largely due to rising gasoline prices. That’s a sign that inflation is stubbornly persisting despite a series of sharp interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.
According to AAA, the national average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline was $3.86 last week through Thursday, up 5 cents from the previous week.
Excluding gasoline sales, retail sales rose just 0.2% in August, according to the Commerce Department report.