Retail Sales Edge Higher in August

Retail sales, a measure of how much consumers spent on a number of everyday goods, including cars, food and gasoline, rose 0.3% in August, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

That is an improvement from the downwardly revised data in July, which showed that retail sales actually tumbled 0.4%.

The August advance is not adjusted for inflation – which rose 0.1% last month – meaning that consumers may be spending the same but getting less bang for their buck.

“Consumer spending has flatlined in real terms in the face of steep inflation and interest rate increases from the Fed,” said Ben Ayers, a senior economist at Nationwide. “While retail sales continue to move higher, much of this is due to higher prices which push up the dollar volume of sales. This is another indication of the general slowdown in activity across the economy this year.”