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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Up; Core Spending Firm
by Tom Moeller October 14, 2005

US retail sales rose 0.2% last month following a 1.9% August drop that was slightly shallower than initially reported. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.4% increase. Less autos, however, retail sales beat expectations for a 0.7% gain and increased 1.1% after an unrevised 1.0% August rise.

Sales at gasoline service stations surged 4.0%, about the same pace as during the prior three months, as the retail price of gasoline rose 16.8% m/m to an average $2.90 per gallon. So far in October gas prices have averaged $2.88.

Less gasoline, nonauto retail sales rose the same 0.6% (6.7% y/y) as in August. The increase was boosted by a 1.0% (8.6% y/y) jump in building material sales which followed a 0.7% August rise.

Sales at furniture & electronics stores jumped 1.0% (7.2% y/y) after an upwardly revised 0.8% August increase. Sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) added 0.2% (11.1% y/y) to the prior month's 2.9% pop and general merchandise store sales rose 0.9% (6.8% y/y). Apparel store sales lagged the pace and fell 0.2% (+5.7% y/y).

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

  Sept Aug Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Retail Sales & Food Services 0.2% -1.9% 6.5% 7.3% 4.3% 2.5%
  Excluding Autos 1.1% 1.0% 9.6% 8.3% 4.7% 3.3%
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