Bloomberg via Getty Images
By John Kell
July 15, 2014

Retail sales inched up 0.2% in June from May, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday, disappointing expectations of a larger rise after increasing signs that the economy had gained momentum in recent weeks.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had projected a 0.6% increase in June. The actual increase was the weakest the Commerce Department has reported since January.

However, Commerce said May sales had been stronger than it originally thought, and revised up its estimate for sales to a gain of 0.5% from an initial 0.3%.

Overall, sales were up 4.1% from a year earlier, it said, driven mainly by an 8.1% increase in non-store retail, and a 7.9% increase at health and personal care stores.

Overall, U.S. retail and food services sales for June totaled $439.9 billion. The figure is adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes. Total sales for the second quarter, which runs from April through June, increased 4.5% from the same period a year ago, the Commerce Department said.

For June, retail sales were bolstered by an increase in general merchandise store sales, as well as the health and personal care retail segment. Sales were also higher at food and beverage stores, clothing, and the sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores businesses.

However, the typically strong motor vehicle and parts dealers businesses reported a decline of 0.3%, according to Commerce.

The auto industry has been a general bright spot as many other retailers, particularly those focused on selling clothes and electronics, have struggled with weak traffic trends at their brick-and-mortar locations. Industry-wide auto sales rose 1.2% in June, according to market research firm Autodata Corp., though that gain is from the year-ago level.

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