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Retail sales virtually unchanged for August

WASHINGTON — Retail sales for the month of August were flat, the U.S. Census Bureau disclosed on Wednesday.

Adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, sales totaled $389.5 billion. Compared with the year-ago period, however, sales rose 7.2%. Trade sales edged up slightly by 0.1% from July, as well as 7.5% above August 2010.

Adjusted grocery store sales rose from $46.3 million in July to $46.5 million August, the government agency said, while health and personal care stores increased 0.2% to nearly $23 million.

Although advanced estimates for pharmacies and drug stores are not included in the report, the Census Bureau disclosed that adjusted sales decreased from June to July, dropping from about $19.1 million to $19.07 million.

Commenting on the results, the National Retail Federation said that stalled consumer spending indicated signs of fatigue and also reflected August employment figures.

“Consumer spending in August was tempered by a continued lack of confidence in the strength of our economy,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Having carried the brunt of the economic recovery so far, consumers may be waiting for good news in terms of employment and market stability, cautiously spending on things they need and thinking twice about things they want.”