In this Tuesday, May 16, 2017, photo, a shopper pushes a cart inside a HomeGoods store, in Salem, N.H. On Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, the Commerce Department releases retail sales data for July. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
AP Photo/Elise Amendola In this Tuesday, May 16, 2017, photo, a shopper pushes a cart inside a HomeGoods store, in Salem, N.H. On Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, the Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales rose 0.6 percent in July, the biggest increase in seven months.

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…