U.S. Retail Sales Fell Flat in August as Consumer Confidence Declined

U.S. retail sales (NYSE:XRT) remained flat in August as a battle over spending in Congress pushed down consumer confidence to its lowest level in three years.

August retail sales were expected to rise 0.2%, according to a Reuters poll. Retail sales grew 0.3% in July, according to downwardly revised figures from the Department of Commerce.

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Data suggests that growth in the first two months of the quarter was weaker than economists had predicted. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70% of the U.S. economy.

When excluding autos, retail sales climbed 0.1% in August, well below the expected 0.3% gain. Auto sales declined 0.3% last month.

While sales of electronics, gasoline (NYSE:UGA), and food grew, their gains were offset by a decline in purchases of cars, furniture, and clothes. Spending at restaurants and bars also declined.

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Core sales — which exclude gasoline (NYSE:UGA), autos, and building materials (NYSE:XLB) — rose 0.1% in August. However, when excluding just the 0.3% rise in gasoline sales, retail sales were flat for the month.