Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Retail spending in the United States increased slightly in July but marked the third straight month of growth, the Commerce Department said in its monthly report Friday.
The department said retail sales were up 1.2% for the month -- significantly lower than increases of 18.3% in May and 8.4% in June.
Most analysts expected a sales bump of 2.3% for July. Excluding slower auto sales, however, July's growth rose to 1.9%, topping estimates of about 1.2%.
The report said greater spending on electronics and appliances, health products and at restaurants fueled the rise.
Friday's assessment came one day after the Labor Department reported just 963,000 new unemployment claims for the week, the first time since mid-March that the figure was under 1 million.
Some analysts expect retail growth will continue to slow in the coming months, in part because many Americans are still unemployed, and also because sales are now back to pre-COVID-19 levels.
"From here on, the recovery in consumer spending as measured in the retail sales report is likely to be a lot more grudging," Joshua Shapiro, chief economist at research firm Maria Fiorini Ramirez, said in a research note.