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NEW YORK — Retail sales in the U.S. rose 1.9% in September, the 5th consecutive month of growth.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Oct. 16 that retail sales grew 1.9% last month. That’s up from August’s increase of 0.6%.

Retail sales have been recovering since plunging in the spring as stores and malls were ordered closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Consumer spending makes up two-thirds of all U.S. economic activity, and is watched closely to gauge the country’s economic health.

The newest retail sales report covers only about a third of overall consumer spending. Services such as haircuts and hotel stays are not included in the report. All of those types of businesses have been badly hurt by the pandemic.

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