Retail sales in the U.S. climbed for a second straight month, a sign consumers may be looking past recent volatility in financial markets.
The 0.2 percent increase in August followed a 0.7 percent gain in July that was larger than previously reported, Commerce Department figures showed Tuesday in Washington. The median forecast of 84 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.3 percent advance.
Although confidence has taken a hit from stock-market turmoil and global-growth concerns, the data show households are still putting their savings from cheap energy to work. More jobs and higher pay would go a long way in supporting household spending, which Federal Reserve policy makers are watching as they consider raising interest rates as soon as this week.
“When it comes to domestic data, including consumption, the U.S. is doing quite well,” Dana Saporta, a U.S. economist at Credit Suisse Securities USA in New York, said before the report. “Supporting consumption is strong job growth, lower energy prices. Even the stronger dollar helps reduce the price of goods that consumers buy from abroad.”
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from a decrease of 0.1 percent to a 0.6 percent gain. July retail sales were previously reported as up 0.6 percent. June data was unrevised at little changed.
Ten of 13 major categories showed increases last month, including auto dealers, restaurants and clothing stores.