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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Backpedal
by Tom Moeller June 14, 2005

US retail sales slipped 0.5% last month following a little revised 1.5% spurt in April. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.2% decline.

The 0.2% decline in sales excluding motor vehicles followed an upwardly revised 1.4% jump in April. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.2% increase. Some of the weakness was due to a 1.6% decline in gasoline service station sales (+13.4% y/y). Nonauto retail sales less gasoline in May were about unchanged (6.6% y/y).

Spending on discretionary items was quite mixed. General merchandise store sales fell 0.1% (+4.9% y/y) after a sharp 1.3% jump in April. Apparel store sales dropped 0.8% (+5.8% y/y) but sales at furniture and electronics sales increased 0.2% (+6.7% y/y).

Building material store sales added 0.5% (9.2% y/y) to the very sharp increases of the prior two months.

Sales of nonstore retailers (internet and catalogue) dropped 1.1% (11.9% y/y) but April's gain was revised sharply higher to 1.2%.

  May April Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Retail Sales & Food Services -0.5% 1.5% 6.4% 7.3% 4.3% 2.5%
  Excluding Autos -0.2% 1.4% 7.4% 8.3% 4.7% 3.3%
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