• A shopper pushes a cart inside a HomeGoods store, in Salem, N.H. on Tuesday. Retail sales advanced 0.6 percent last month, the best showing since a gain of 0.9 percent last December, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday Photo: Elise Amendola /Associated Press / Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON — Consumers went out shopping in a big way in July, pushing up retail sales by the largest amount in seven months.

Retail sales advanced 0.6 percent last month, the best showing since a gain of 0.9 percent last December, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. For most of this year, retail sales have been lackluster, including a decline in May of 0.2 percent and a modest 0.3 percent June gain.

Consumer spending accounts for around 70 percent of economic activity, so the latest result is a good sign for overall economic growth.

Michael Pearce, U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said the strong gain in July sales showed that consumer spending was…