Americans bought more cars, restaurant meals and building supplies in July. The spending points to steady economic growth anchored by the improving job market.
The Commerce Department says retail sales climbed 0.6 percent last month, after experiencing a flat June. Sales have increased 2.4 percent over the past 12 months, evidence that consumers are becoming more confident as the economy entered its seventh year of recovery from the Great Recession.
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Purchases at auto dealers increased 1.4 percent last month. Restaurants and building materials stores both recorded a 0.7 percent gain.
Gasoline station sales also increased in July, although cheaper energy prices at the pump have fueled a 15.2 percent drop into purchases over the past year.
Not all sectors improved last month. Sales waned at electronics and department stores.