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Retail sales edged up slightly again in July, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The report follows dour news that has circulated from elsewhere across the economy in recent weeks, and shaken confidence in the recovery, noted the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).
Monthly retail sales were up 0.5 percent from June and up 8.5 percent from July 2010. Retail sales, excluding auto sales, were up 0.5 percent over the previous month and 8.9 percent over July 2010.
Sectors such as furniture stores, groceries, clothing stores, and non-store retailers saw higher gains last month, while others struggled to match sales from June. Gasoline sales rose a notable 1.6 percent, indicating that consumers continue to spend more on fuel.
"Retailers are adjusting to the new normal -- slow, hard-fought gains," said RILA President Sandy Kennedy. "A variety of real and perceived obstacles, including disappointingly slow job growth and economic news, continues to fluctuate between subdued and chaotic and to depress consumer confidence and spending."
It remains unknown how the tense economic debate in Washington and recent market volatility will affect the back-to-school shopping season currently under way. Sophisticated systems and lessons learned from recent years have improved inventory planning considerably, but adjusting to unpredictable events as they emerge remains a difficult challenge for retailers to meet.
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