U.S. retail spending up modestly in August


WASHINGTON — Americans boosted their spending at retail businesses modestly in August, indicating that economic growth remains sluggish. Consumers bought more cars, furniture, and electronics last month but held back on most other purchases.

Spending at retail businesses rose 0.2 percent last month, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the smallest gain in four months. But the government said retail spending was stronger in the previous month than first estimated.

Slow wage growth, modest job gains, and higher taxes have limited Americans’ spending power. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.