Despite lingering concerns over high unemployment and signs of a slowing U.S. economy, American consumers were willing to spend more money last month.
The Commerce Department released data Tuesday morning showing that retail sales in the U.S. grew 0.8% in July.
The strength of last month’s increase surprised economists, who had predicted a 0.3% bump, Reuters noted. It also reversed three consecutive monthly declines for retail sales.
Gasoline sales rose 0.5% last month. Appliance and electronics sales saw a 0.9% gain in July, automobile sales increased 0.8% and construction supplies spending edged up 0.1%.
Removing fuel, cars and construction supplies, core retail sales jumped 0.9%. That marked the largest increase since the beginning of the year.
Last month, the government reported that U.S. retail sales in June had declined 0.5%, disappointing economists who had expected a 0.2% rise. In today’s report, the June fall-off was revised to a deeper 0.7%.