WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales rose in August from July because consumers paid higher gas prices and bought more cars and trucks. They were more cautious elsewhere, suggesting the weak economy has made many selective about spending.
The Commerce Department says retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent. Gas station sales jumped 5.5 percent, the most in nearly three years and a reflection of sharp price increases. Demand for autos increased 1.7 percent.
Outside those categories, sales rose only 0.1 percent. That's below July's 0.8 percent gain. Sales at general merchandise and electronic stores fell. Sales at grocery stores, sporting goods stores and online retailers were unchanged.
Gasoline sales are heavily influenced by price, and auto sales represent major purchases. Excluding those categories offers more clarity on consumers' willingness to spend.