Retail sales slid in August as people steered away from buying cars and shoppers kept a close eye on their spending after splurging in July, according to the Associated Press.
The Commerce Department reported retail sales fell by 0.3 percent in August, following a 0.8 percent gain the previous month. In recent months, overall retail sales have exhibited a seesaw pattern, with sales going up one month, down the next.
“August represented another notch in a schizophrenic summer for retail sales,” said Rosalind Wells, chief economist at the National Retail Federation. “Retailers are hoping that fall and winter sales are more consistent and predictable.”
The decline in overall retail sales in August mostly can be accounted for by a 1.9 percent drop in automobile sales, which had risen 2.2 percent in July.
Paul Taylor, chief economist at the National Automobile Dealers Association, said the decline came despite incentives and promotions to lure buyers.
“The soft spot in the economy made consumers less willing to take on a new vehicle purchase,” he said.
Excluding sales of cars, which can swing widely from month to month, sales by other merchants ac ually rose by 0.2 percent in August. That was down from a 0.3 percent increase in July but still marked the fourth straight monthly rise.
In August, sales posted declines at furniture, clothing and department stores. Sales at bars and restaurants also fell.
Sales registered gains, however, at building, garden-supply, electronics, appliance, sporting-goods, books and music stores, health and beauty shops and gasoline stations.