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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Up
by Tom Moeller August 12, 2004

Retail sales rose 0.7% last month following a 0.5% June decline, revised from the initial report of a 1.1% slide. Consensus expectations had been for a 1.1% rise in July sales.

Excluding motor vehicles & parts dealers sales rose 0.2% after an upwardly revised 0.3% June gain, initially reported as -0.2%. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.4% rise.

Sales at gasoline service stations fell 0.5% (18.6% y/y) as gasoline prices dropped 2.9%. So far in August gas prices are down another 1.5% to an average $1.88/gal. Non-auto retail sales less gasoline rose 0.3% (6.8% y/y) in July. That followed a 0.3% rise in June and a 0.4% rise in May1.

Sales of furniture/home furnishings & electronics/appliances rose 0.7% (+6.8% y/y) following an upwardly revised 1.7% June gain. Sales at general merchandise stores jumped 1.0% (+6.4% y/y) but clothing and accessory store sales fell 0.1% (+3.9% y/y), the third down month in the last four.

  July June Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Retail Sales & Food Services 0.7% -0.5% 6.5% 5.4% 2.5% 3.1%
  Excluding Autos 0.2% 0.3% 7.8% 5.2% 3.2% 3.1%
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