Retail sales grew 2.9% over last year in July, a smaller-than-expected increase, according to a Thomson Reuters index. Results were uneven, with chains including Macy's and Limited Brands beating expectations while Aeropostale and some others missed their goals. Industry watchers cited hot weather and renewed consumer concerns about the economy as the reason for the slower growth. "I believe we hit a soft spot," said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. "The consumer is really cautious. I'm not expecting them to really break out into any real aggressive purchasing."

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