Higher gasoline prices and zero-percent financing deals on cars pushed American retail sales up for the second month in succession in July, according to the Commerce Department.

Sales climbed 1.2% to $304.3 billion (€308.4bn; £197.4bn) last month, on the back of a 1.4% increase in June. However, excluding the boost provided by fuel (+2.7%) and auto (+4.2%) purchases, sales stayed flat.

The summer spending spree is the first time this year sales have risen for two months in a row, and is the biggest such increase since November and December 1999.

Nevertheless, the benefits are not being felt across the board. Clothing and accessory stores saw sales dip 1.3% in July after a 2.5% jump the month before, while spending on building materials dropped 1.2%.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff