Christopher Rugaber Associated Press Published 12:40 p.m. UTC Aug 15, 2018 Washington – Americans shopped at a healthy pace in July, buying more cars, clothes and appliances, evidence that confident consumers are helping drive robust economic growth. The Commerce Department says retail sales rose at a 0.5 percent annual rate in July, after a 0.2 percent increase the previous month. June’s increase, however, was revised lower from 0.5 percent. Consumers are feeling upbeat and are in overall solid financial shape. The unemployment rate is near an 18-year low. And economic growth, along with hiring, has accelerated. On average, Americans are saving more, which may encourage future spending. Sales last month rose at auto dealers and grocery stores, and jumped at clothing shops. Americans boosted their spending at restaurants and bars 1.3 percent in July from June. Gas station sales increased 0.8 percent.
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