Consumer spending unexpectedly accelerated in August as back-to-school shopping bolstered sales. Retail sales, a measure of spending at restaurants, stores and online, last month rose 0.7% to $618.7 billion, according to the Commerce Department.
Clothing and clothing accessories sales rose 3.3% month over month and were 38.3% above year-ago levels. Gasoline sales jumped 1.6% compared to July.
Retail sales excluding autos jumped 1.8% month over month compared with the 0.1% decline that was anticipated. Auto sales declined 3.6% last month.
Nonstore spending increased 5.3% and food and beverage store sales rose 1.8%, “perhaps reflecting Delta-driven fears pushing consumers back to shopping from and eating at home,” said Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.