WASHINGTON (AP) - The Commerce Department says sales rose 0.4 percent last month while sales excluding autos were up 0.2 percent.
Both figures were slightly below expectations.
The report on retail sales was further evidence that the economy has slowed significantly in recent months.
That is raising fears that the recovery could falter unless job growth begins to pick up, providing consumers with more income to spend.
Meanwhile, consumer prices rose in July by the most since last August as energy costs increased for the first time in five months.
The Labor Department says the Consumer Price Index, the government's most closely watched inflation measure, increased by 0.3 percent in July, after three months of declines.
Wall Street economists expected a smaller increase.
Over the past year, consumer prices rose by 1.2 percent, the department said.
That's up slightly from last month's 1.1 percent pace but still a mild increase.
The weak economy is keeping prices in check.
Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the so-called "core" index increased by 0.1 percent in July, as the cost of housing, clothes, and used cars and trucks all rose.
Core prices moved up by 0.9 percent in the past year for the fourth month in a row.
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