Sales Rise by Highest Rate in Five Months

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Retail sales grew in July by the largest amount in five months despite lingering high unemployment numbers, according to the Commerce Department.

Sales rose 0.8 percent, beating expectations after three months of declines.

The auto industry expects the rate of sales by the average car dealer to increase to about 805 vehicles per year, up from 719 last year.

And the home improvement giant Home Depot is reporting more than a 12 percent boost in sales just in their second quarter.

Some of the strongest performance came in markets hit hardest by the housing downturn, such as California and Florida.

"The consumers are coming back," Business Week quoted Sung Won Sohn, economics professor at Cal State Channel Islands. "They were temporarily scared because of what was happening in Europe and China, and in parts of the country we also had weather problems."

"But now, consumer sentiment is thawing a little and people are out in the shopping centers looking for bargains and value," he said.
    
Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

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