Retail Sales Rose 0.4% in July, Slightly Lower Than Expected
Retail sales were $362.7 billion in July, an increase of 5.5% from a year earlier, the Commerce Department said in a statement.
A survey of economists by Bloomberg News forecast a 0.5% rise from June.
Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve warned that the economic recovery would be slower than expected, and that factors including lower housing wealth and a lack of available credit were constraining household spending.
Consumer spending will play "a supporting, but not a leading, role," in the recovery, Richard DeKaser, chief economist at Woodley Park Research in Washington, told Bloomberg News before the report.
"The improving labor market and household wealth positions are keeping consumers in the game, if only just barely," DeKaser said.
July's gains were concentrated at auto dealers and gasoline stations.
Sales at motor vehicles and other parts dealers rose 1.6% from June, while sales at gasoline stations added 2.3%.