WASHINGTON — Sales at department stores helped drive top-line growth in retail sales in August, but consumers pulled back on spending at apparel and accessories stores and discounters, the monthly retail sales report released by the Commerce Department showed on Friday.

Department stores showed the only sign of strength, posting a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent gain in sales to $14.4 billion in August. Sales at apparel and accessories stores fell a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent last month to $20.9 billion, while sales at general merchandise stores, a category that includes discounters and department stores, fell 0.2 percent to $54.7 billion in August.

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