WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales rose at a solid pace last month despite higher prices and modest wage gains, a sign of underlying consumer optimism.
The Commerce Department said Monday that sales at retailers and restaurants increased 0.5 percent in June, following a big 1.3 percent gain the previous month. May’s figure was revised sharply higher from an initial estimate of 0.8 percent.
Americans are confident about the economic outlook, with the unemployment rate near an 18 year-low and the economy accelerating after a sluggish start to the year. Retail sales rose 6.6 percent from a year earlier, the fastest annual pace in five years.
Still, some of the spending increases, such as gas station sales, simply reflect higher prices. Excluding auto dealers and gas stations, sales rose 0.3 percent in June.
Home and garden stores reported a strong 0.8 percent sales gain, which was likely lifted in part by more expensive lumber. The Trump administration imposed tariffs on some lumber imports from Canada last fall.
With consumer spending strong, most economists believe that growth will jump to…