WASHINGTON - Americans ramped up their online shopping and restaurant spending in October, but barely-there inflation kept overall retail sales growth muted.
The Commerce Department says retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent last month, after being unchanged in September. Over the past 12 months, sales have risen 1.7 percent. Lower gasoline costs and meager inflation have downplayed the extent of consumer spending because the retail sales report is not adjusted for price changes.
Online purchases climbed 1.4 percent last month. Spending at restaurants and bars improved 0.5 percent. Furnishers, building material sellers, sporting goods outlets and department stores also notched gains.
But gas station store sales tumbled 0.9 percent and spending at auto dealers -- a major engine of growth over the past year -- fell 0.5 percent in October.