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US retail sales rise 0.1 pct. in Oct.; restaurant and online spending improve, auto sales drop

WASHINGTON — Americans ramped up their online shopping and restaurant spending in October, but barely-there inflation kept overall retail sales growth muted.

The Commerce Department says retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1 per cent last month, after being unchanged in September. Over the past 12 months, sales have risen 1.7 per cent. Lower gasoline costs and meagre inflation have downplayed the extent of consumer spending, as the retail sales report is not adjusted for price changes.

Online purchases climbed 1.4 per cent last month. Spending at restaurants and bars improved 0.5 per cent. Furnishers, building material sellers, sporting goods outlets and department stores also notched gains.

But gas station store sales tumbled 0.9 per cent and spending at auto dealers — a major engine of growth over the past year — fell 0.5 per cent in October.

Josh Boak, The Associated Press

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