NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Retail sales rose 0.4% in July, falling just shy of expectations -- and most of the gain came from autos, which doesn't bode well for the upcoming back-to-school season.

The Commerce Department said sales reached a seasonally adjusted $362.7 billion during the month. Economists forecast a 0.5% uptick.

Regardless, the increase represents the first time sales have risen over the past three months. Retail sales fell 0.5% in June and were down 0.1% when excluding autos.

Excluding the gains from autos and gasoline, sales actually were down 0.1%, compared with economists' prediction of an increase of 0.3%.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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