Retail Sales Post Modest July Gain After Auto Sales Increase

WASHINGTON -- Retail sales managed a modest increase in July after two consecutive declines, but the strength was concentrated in higher sales of autos and gasoline. Most other retailers saw their sales fall.

The Commerce Department says sales rose 0.4 percent last month while sales excluding autos were up 0.2 percent. Both figures were slightly below expectations.

The report on retail sales was further evidence that the economy has slowed significantly in recent months. That is raising fears that the recovery could falter unless job growth begins to pick up, providing consumers with more income to spend.