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Archive for Saturday, September 13, 2003

Nation’s shoppers ease up after July buying binge

September 13, 2003

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— After splurging in July, America's shoppers spent more modestly in August amid higher energy prices and job losses.

Sales at the nation's retailers rose by 0.6 percent last month, following a brisk 1.3 percent sales increase registered in July, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Although August's sales performance was weaker than the 1.5 percent gain that economists were forecasting, analysts said consumers were still spending at a healthy pace and were keeping their wallets and pocketbooks sufficiently open to help along the economy's recovery.

"Consumer spending rose solidly in August, even if it was expected to be up even more than we saw," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.

Excluding sales of automobiles, which can swing widely from month to month, sales at all other merchants rose by 0.7 percent in August -- close to economists' predictions for a 0.8 percent rise.

In a second report, higher costs for energy and food helped to boost wholesale prices 0.4 percent in August, following a tiny 0.1 percent increase in July, the Labor Department said.

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