Washington - CE and appliance dealers eked out a 1.5 percent sales gain in August for a total take of $8.5 billion, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Commerce Department.
Sales rose a more modest 0.5 percent from July.
The monthly figures, which are compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, were adjusted for seasonal variations and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes.
In comparison, total retail sales excluding restaurants and car dealers and auto parts stores rose 7.5 percent in August and 0.1 percent from July.
"Consumer spending in August was tempered by a continued lack of confidence in the strength of our economy," observed Matthew Shay, president/CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF), a retail trade group. "Having carried the brunt of the economic recovery so far, consumers may be waiting for good news in terms of employment and market stability, cautiously spending on things they need and thinking twice about things they want."
Added NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, "August retail sales [month over month] mirror August employment figures - zero growth. Consumer spending has stalled, and it will be important for consumers to see positive changes in the economic outlook going into the fourth quarter. While we're not expecting a complete pull back in spending, the outlook remains modest in terms of growth."