U.S. retail sales up, but signs of caution emerge
WASHINGTON>> U.S. shoppers stepped up their spending in September, with sharply higher sales at auto dealers, restaurants and gas stations. But the government’s retail sales report released Friday also contained some evidence that spending might be slowing.
For much of this year, consumers have spent at a solid pace as income gains have accelerated and the job market has improved. Last month’s overall retail sales gain was a decent seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent. Much of it, though, was due to higher oil prices, which increased how much people spent at gas stations but were not necessarily a sign of stronger consumer spending.
September’s overall increase in retail sales marked a rebound from August’s sluggish 0.2 percent gain, the Commerce Department said. During the first nine months of the year, retail sales have increased 2.9 percent compared with 2015. Increased sales have helped propel economic growth and have offset a diminished U.S. manufacturing base and broader weaknesses in the global economy.
The results were enough to sustain optimism among some ana-