NEW YORK -- A group of 18 retailers ranging from discounter Target Corp. to department-store chain Macy's Inc. reported Thursday that August sales rose 6 percent -- the industry's best performance since the 6.8 percent increase in March -- according to trade group International Council of Shopping Centers.
The gains, which factor in only stores open at least a year, compare with the 4-to-5-percent increase Wall Street predicted at the beginning of the month.
Also Thursday, the Commerce Department reported that consumer spending rose 0.4 percent in July from June after showing no change in June and a slight decline in May.
Income grew 0.3 percent, matching the gains from May and June. Americans also were paid 0.3 percent more after taxes.
The savings rate after taxes dipped to 4.2 percent in July from 4.3 percent in June, which was the highest in a year.
Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.