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Rising U.S. retail sales in June defy predictions; American Air wants idled cabin crews back in time or the holidays

Retail sales rise, better than expected

NEW YORK — Americans spent more last month on clothing, electronics and dining out as the economy opened up and pandemic-related restrictions were lifted.

Retail sales rose a seasonal adjusted 0.6 percent in June from the month before, the U.S. Commerce Department said July 16. The increase was a surprise to analysts, who had expected sales to fall slightly.

Spending has slowed since March, when stimulus checks caused a surge in shopping. And as Americans get vaccinated, they are spending less on goods and more on services, which are not reflected in Friday's report.

Americans are paying more for food, gas and other goods, with prices jumping last month by the most in 13 years.

Sales at bars and restaurants rose 2.3 percent. Clothing store sales rose by 2.6 percent, and sales at electronic shops were up 3.3 percent.

At auto dealerships, sales fell 2 percent, mostly likely because of a semiconductor chip shortage that has hurt global car production.

The biggest sales drop, 3.6 percent, was at furniture stores. Sales also fell at home improvement stores and sporting goods retailers.

American Air recalls idled attendants

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines is canceling extended leaves for about 3,300 flight attendants and telling them to come back to work in time for the holiday season.

And the carrier plans to hire 800 new flight attendants by March.

The moves are the latest indication that leisure travel in the U.S. is recovering more quickly from the pandemic than airlines expected.

"Increasing customer demand and new routes starting later this year mean we need more flight attendants to operate the airline," Brady Byrnes, the airline's vice president of flight service, told flight attendants in a memo Thursday.

Byrnes said cabin crews who are coming back from leave will return to flights in November or December.

Last year, American offered long-term leaves of absence to flight attendants and other employees to cut costs while it struggled with a steep drop in travel caused by the coronavirus outbreak. 

E-truck maker is issued two subpoenas

LORDSTOWN, Ohio — Lordstown Motors, an Ohio company under scrutiny over the number of orders it claimed it had for the electric trucks that it wants to produce, acknowledged receiving two subpoenas from federal regulators and that prosecutors in New York have opened an investigation.

The Securities and Exchange Commission asked in a pair of subpoenas for documents related to the company's merger with DiamondPeak.

Last month, Lordstown acknowledged that it had no firm orders for its vehicles days after its president said the company had enough of them to maintain production through 2022. The company's CEO and chief financial officer resigned the same week.

In its regulatory filing with the SEC, Lordstown said that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York is "investigating these matters." It said that it is cooperating with all investigations and inquiries.

There are now questions about whether Lordstown has enough funding to continue. 

Ford is recalling 775K Explorer vehicles

DETROIT — Ford Motor is recalling about 774,696 Ford Explorers because of potential fractures in the rear suspension.

A seized cross-axis ball joint may cause a fractured rear suspension toe link.

Affected vehicles may experience unusual handling, or a misaligned rear wheel. Fracture of a rear toe link significantly diminishes steering control, increasing the risk of a crash.

The recall includes Explorers from 2013-2017. About 676,152 are in North America.

Ford said it's aware of six reports of injuries reportedly related to the issue in North America.

Nabisco plant to close after 63 years

FAIR LAWN, N.J. — Friday was the last day for residents of a New Jersey town to smell the sweet aroma of freshly baked Oreo cookies as the community's Nabisco plant shut down after 63 years in operation.

Parent company Mondelēz International confirmed it was the last day of production at the plant, which has produced Oreos, Ritz crackers, Lorna Doone and Teddy Grahams since 1958.

The plant's 600 workers have either retired, transferred or were looking for other jobs, the company said.

Production began slowing when the company announced in February that it would close the plant in New Jersey and one in Atlanta.

The Atlanta plant closed in June. A plant in Richmond, Va., remains open.

The company was reviewing bids for the plant from potential buyers. Records showed the total assessed value of the factory is $29.3 million.

Associated Press

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