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NEW YORK (AP) — Despite a rise in COVID-19 cases, Americans kept shopping last month.

Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in August from the month before, the US Commerce Department said Thursday. That uptick caught economists by surprise. They were looking for spending to decrease by 0.85 percent.

But the Delta variant has changed where Americans spend their time and money. Online sales soared 5.5 percent last month, while sales at restaurants and bars, many of whom believed they were through the worst of the pandemic until the arrival of Delta, were flat from the month before.

Health officials recommended in July that even vaccinated people needed to wear masks in public places indoors.

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