WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. retail sales inched up by 0.6 percent in August, following a moderate growth in the prior month, the country's commerce department reported on Wednesday.
With continued recovery since May, total retail sales for the June through August period were up 2.4 percent from the same period a year ago, according to the report.
"The pandemic may not yet be in the rearview mirror, but with this fourth straight monthly increase, the level of retail sales rose to a fresh record high making it appear as though consumer spending has fully recovered," Tim Quinlan and Shannon Seery, economists at the Wells Fargo Securities, wrote in an analysis.
However, the two economists noted that "the underlying details are less tidy." Restaurants and bars saw a 4.7 percent increase in August while grocery stores saw sales slip 1.6 percent, they said, adding that even with the increase, bars and restaurants are down 16 percent from their pre-crisis peak.
According to the commerce department's report, non-store retailers were up 22.7 percent from August 2019, while clothing and clothing accessories stores were down 20.4 percent from last year. Retail trade sales were up 0.1 percent from July, and 5.1 percent above last year.
August was the first post-pandemic month without the additional 600-dollar weekly federal unemployment benefits. As unemployment rate remains high, Democratic and Republican lawmakers are still far apart on the size and scope of the next round of the COVID-19 relief bill.
Retail sales saw an 8.3 percent drop in March amid widespread COVID-19 shutdowns, followed by a record 14.7-percent plunge in April.
As businesses gradually reopened across the nation, retail sales increased by a revised 18.2 percent in May, followed by a revised 8.4 percent growth in June. Amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, retail sales inched up by a revised 0.9 percent in July. Enditem