Sales for the month came to a 4.1 percent increase from July 2011. From May through July, sales were up 4.3 percent from the same three months of 2011, the bureau said.
By comparison, in the three months prior to that -- February through April -- sales fell 0.6 percent.
Vehicle sales rose 0.8 percent from June's level and were 8.2 percent higher than July 2011. From June 2012, health and personal care store sales rose 1.1 percent. Catalog and Internet sales rose 1.5 percent in July from June and 11.8 percent from July 2011.