PhotoConsumers continued to do their part during July to keep the economy growing.

Government figures show retail sales were up 0.2% last month, building on an revised increase of 0.6% in June. It was the fourth consecutive month that retail sales were higher. The last decline came in March, when sales slipped 0.3%

Retail sales are closely monitored as consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of all economic growth.

The July advance was in line with expectations from economists surveyed by, who had projected growth of 0.2% in July.

Ups and downs

Major contributors to the increase in retail sales included clothing stores and gasoline stations with sales jumps of 0.9%, and food and beverage stores which saw an increase of 0.6%

Sales fell at furniture and home furnishing stores (1.4%) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (-1.0%)

Excluding the volatile auto sector, retail sales in July were up 0.5%

The full July retail sales report is available on the Commerce Department website.

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