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(Story updated with CIT Group comments)
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that U.S. retail and food services sales for August, adjusted for seasonal variation, increased of 0.4% from the previous month and 3.6% from the previous year.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting a retail sales increase of 0.3% in August.

Total sales for the June through August 2010 period were up 4.7% from the same period a year ago.

Meanwhile, the June-to-July 2010 percent change was revised from 0.4% to 0.3%. In addition, retail trade sales were up 0.5% from July 2010 and 3.7% above last year. Non-store retail sales were up 10.5% from the previous year and gasoline stations sales were up 9.6% from last year.

According to a study by

CIT Group

, 65% of retailers and 69% of suppliers surveyed believe consumer spending may return to 2007 levels by the end of 2011.

The report indicated that 60% of middle market retailers surveyed say that over the last 12 months their revenues have grown (55%) or grown significantly (5%) and two-thirds expect revenues to be higher still in the coming 12 months. However, sales expectations may still be below the levels seen prior to the economic downturn.

Some 74% of small and middle market suppliers anticipate growth over the next 12 months, according to the study, while 55% say they will achieve and support this growth through new investment in product development, and 51% will put greater focus on operating efficiencies, the study says.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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