WASHINGTON — Retail sales held steady in August, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday, the slowest sales pace since a 0.2% decline in June 2010. Sales excluding motor vehicles and parts rose 0.1% for the month.

Total July retail sales were revised to a 0.3% increase from the 0.5% gain previously reported. July sales excluding autos were up 0.3%.

Economists expected increases of 0.2% for both overall and ex-autos, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Core retail sales excluding autos and gasoline were up 0.1%. The so-called control group of retail sales — excluding autos, gas, and building materials — was also up 0.1% for the month.

Regarding the effect of Hurricane Irene, JPMorgan economists advised in their pre-report analysis that “there is not a clear pattern to how hurricanes have affected core retail sales in the past.”

In this case, building materials, garden equipment and supplies stores showed a 0.2% increase in August.

Motor vehicles and parts sales were down 0.3%. Clothing stores had a 0.7% drop.

Gasoline station sales were up 0.3%. Electronics stores and online and mail-order retailers both showed 0.5% increases.

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