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The New York Times reports that "retail sales rose 0.6 percent last month, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday, and the 1.2 percent increase in July was revised down to a 0.9 percent gain. Still, Americans continued to spend on home computers, new cars and online groceries, and some retailers serving those pandemic-related needs reported record sales."

The Times goes on:  "The slower rise in consumer spending in August occurred against a grim economic backdrop that grew even darker as the $600-a-week supplemental unemployment assistance expired and Congress failed to agree on new stimulus measures. Unemployment declined, but stayed high as huge sectors of the economy — like hospitality, food service and travel — remain largely shut down.

"The slight monthly sales increase — many economists had been predicting a higher number — showed just how vital that government assistance has been in raising incomes. The latest sales data is likely to amplify calls for Congress to pass another round of stimulus before the November election."