US retail sales suffered an unexpected slip in July, when they fell by 0.1 per cent.

The decline followed two months of rising turnover. In June, retail sales advanced 0.8 per cent.

Last month’s setback was prompted by renewed consumer fears over unemployment, and confounded expectations that sales would have climbed 0.7%.

Although 247,000 US jobs were lost in July, the figure was lower than anticipated and the unemployment rate edged down from 9.5% in June to 9.4%.

BMO Capital Markets economist Jennifer Lee told the BBC: “The US consumer remains weak. The jobs situation, while slowly improving, is still dismal.”

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said the US recession appeared to be over.