Sept. 14 (UPI) -- A slowdown in new vehicle sales made for a sluggish August in the consumer market, as U.S. retail sales only barely increased for the month over July, new figures Friday showed.
From July to August, American consumers largely reined in spending -- represented by a 0.1 percent increase. Sales, though, grew by 6.6 percent over August 2017, the figures showed.
Overall sales were a seasonally adjusted $509 billion in August, the department's report said.
Sales at car dealerships and parts stores fell 0.8 percent last month -- the largest decrease among retail sectors. Spending at grocery stores was flat but sales at restaurants and bars increased 0.2 percent. Sales at gas stations were up 1.7 percent month-to-month, and up a whopping 20.3 percent year-to-year, officials said.
Department store sales fell 1 percent, clothing stores sagged 1.7 percent and online purchases gained 0.7 percent.
For September, economists predict a rise in sales before Hurricane Florence and a decline after it's passed.
The Fed statistics showed the sector is up nearly 5 percent from a year ago.
Automobile manufacturing increased 4 percent and led to a slight uptick in manufacturing in August.
The country's mines, factories and utilities last month reached their highest capacity utilization rates since April, at 78.1 percent, nearly pre-recession levels.
The Commerce Department also revised figures for July -- showing a slight gain of 0.7 percent.