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August Sales Fall

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The Commerce Department released its monthly figures today. Sales were down 0.3 percent from July and up 1.6 percent compared with last August. Bloomberg analyzed the results.

Sales at U.S. retailers unexpectedly dropped in August and prices at the wholesale level fell for the first time this year as Americans cut spending in the face of job losses and record foreclosures.

The 0.3 percent decline in purchases followed a 0.5 percent drop in July, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Excluding automobiles, purchases were down 0.7 percent, the most this year.

The figures signal faltering consumer spending will keep inflation in check, buttressing speculation that the Federal Reserve may have to resume lowering interest rates as soon as the end of this year. Futures trading indicates about a 40 percent chance that the Fed will ease credit by December. Stocks fell and Treasuries were little changed.

"Consumer weakness is the single-biggest risk to a recession right now,'' said Guy Lebas, chief economist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, who forecast sales would drop 0.4 percent. "We can't depend on the consumer for any discernable growth. We don't see any catalyst for higher spending.''

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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