U.S. Retail Sales Beat in August on Stronger Auto Sales

Retail sales south of the border had a spring in their step last month, albeit a smaller one. The U.S. Commerce Department says retail sales increased 0.4% last month, down from a healthy 0.8% in July. Excluding autos, sales were unchanged for the first time since February.

The slowdown follows signs that consumer confidence, while still strong, has slipped a bit as the U.S.-China trade war has intensified. American businesses have cut back on their investment and expansion plans amid the trade war’s uncertainty and exports have declined. That has left consumers as a key source of growth.

Online sales continued to soar, rising 1.6%, roughly the same amount as in July, when Amazon held its Prime Day.