NEW YORK — This summer, Americans were walking contradictions: They opened their wallets despite fears about the slow economic recovery and surging gas prices.
A group of 18 retailers ranging from discounter Target to department-store chain Macy's reported August sales Thursday that rose 6 percent — the industry's best performance since March — according to trade group International Council of Shopping Centers. At the same time, the government released numbers showing Americans in July spent at the fastest clip in five months.
The news appears to show that what Americans say and do are different things: The reports come two days after a private research firm said consumer confidence in August fell to its lowest level since November 2011 as Americans grew more concerned about the job market, business conditions and the overall economy.
The month's revenue gains, which only factor in stores open at least a year, are better than Wall Street predicted at the start of August. Except for a June lull, stores have seen a healthy pace of 4 percent to nearly 7 percent growth since the start of the year.