NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. retail sales rose 0.6% in August, the fourth consecutive month of growth, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
The figure is lower than the 0.9% increase reported in July and the 1.1% expected by analysts.
« These are disappointing numbers, » said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “And they are probably a hint of things to come” now that the government will no longer send additional checks to people who have been made unemployed due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus.
Much of last month’s growth came from spending on restaurants and bars, which are just beginning to reopen after the quarantine. Sales were up 4.7% at those locations last month, but are down 15.4% on the year.
Clothing sales rose almost 3% in August after falling 20% in the last year.
Overall retail sales have rebounded since plummeting in the spring when stores and malls were ordered to close to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Several retailers have had to close, including long-standing companies. Real estate Century 21 said last week that it will close its 13 stores for good after nearly six decades in business. The Lord & Taylor department chain, which has been around for nearly 200 years, is also closing. Several other major retailers have sought bankruptcy protection, including J.C. Penney, Brooks Brothers, and J.Crew.