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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Down With Autos, Elsewhere OK
by Tom Moeller September 14, 2005

US retail sales fell 2.1% in August due to a 12.0% drop in motor vehicle dealers' sales. Consensus expectations had been for a 1.3% decline. Less autos, however, retail sales doubled expectations and rose 1.0%.

Some of this m/m strength was due to a 4.4% surge in gasoline service station sales, although it was just half the 8.6% m/m increase in the retail price of gasoline to an average $2.49 per gallon.

Less gasoline, nonauto retail sales rebounded 0.5% (7.0 y/y) following no change in July.

Sales at furniture & electronics stores rose 0.6% (5.9% y/y) following an upwardly revised 0.2% July increase. Sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) jumped 1.8% (11.0% y/y) and sales of building materials rose 0.5% (8.4% y/y).

On the disappointing side, general merchandise store sales rose a modest 0.3% (6.7% y/y) after downwardly revised gains in both July and June while apparel store sales were unchanged after a deepened 0.9% drop in July.

Oil Prices and Consumer Spending from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond is available here.

  Aug July Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Retail Sales & Food Services -2.1% 1.9% 7.9% 7.3% 4.3% 2.5%
  Excluding Autos 1.0% 0.5% 9.4% 8.3% 4.7% 3.3%
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