Americans spent more going out to eat and shopping in August — maybe because they filled the gas tank for less.
Lower gas prices appear to be supporting consumer spending at retailers and restaurants, economists said Friday.
Friday’s report on retail sales from the Commerce Department showed that retail sales rose 0.6% in August, but that was dragged down by a drop in spending at gas stations. After excluding gasoline, spending rose 0.7% in August.
Spending at gas stations declined an estimated 0.8% in August. That followed a flat July and another 0.8% drop in June.
More good news for consumers: Markets have signaled that prices at the pump could fall further amid a glut of crude oil. The average retail price of a gallon of regular gasoline stood at $3.42 on Thursday, down 3.8% from the year-earlier period, according to motor club AAA.
A separate report from the Labor Department on Friday showed that prices of fuel imports fell 4.6% in August, the largest monthly drop in more than two years.
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