PhotoAfter posting three straight monthly advances, retail sales were flat during July.

Figures released by the Census Bureau show retail and food services sales last month totaled $457.7 billion -- virtually unchanged from the previous month, but 2.3% above the same month a year ago.

One of the few bright spots was the upward revision of the June sales figure to show an advance of 0.8% rather than the 0.6% gain initially reported.

Sales at gas stations (-2.7%) were a big factor in the failure of sales to advance last month. Other sales declines came in sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (-2.2%), grocery stores (-0.9%), and department stores (-0.5%).

Among the few retailers that saw sales increases in July were nonstore retailers (+1.3%) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (+1.1%)

The complete July retail sales report is available on the Census Bureau website.

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