Consumers turning the retail corner?

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The National Retail Sales Federation says retail sales saw their first gain in six months, a sign consumers may be turning the corner.

The organization said sales rose 0.7 percent during August over July, but fell 4.3 percent from the same month last year. Those figures do not include auto, gas and restaurant sales, a news release said.

Retail sales including autos, gas and restaurants rose 2.7 percent for the month, but declined 5.9 percent for the year, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

“Many American who traded in their vehicles have become saddled with monthly car payments, which reduces the amount of money they’re able to spend in other areas,” said Rosalind Wells, chief economist for the NRF. “As a result, it remains to be seen how the Cash for Clunkers program will impact traditional retail sales.”

However, it’s encouraging to see momentum building as retailers prepare for the holiday season, he said.