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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Dip
by Tom Moeller November 15, 2005

US retail sales dipped 0.1% last month as consumers shifted away from autos and spent elsewhere. The decline followed a little revised 0.3% September gain but compared favorably to Consensus expectations for a 0.6% decline because less autos, retail sales surged 0.9%. That increase was three times the Consensus expectation and the 1.4% September increase was upwardly revised.

Sales at gasoline service stations fell 0.8% after a 5.1% pop in September which was driven by a 16.8% rise in the retail price of gasoline. Gas prices reversed about half of that gain in October and have fallen another 14% so far in November.

Less gasoline, nonauto retail sales rose 1.1% (7.8% y/y) following an upwardly revised 0.8% gain in September. The increase was boosted again by strength in building material sales which jumped 2.1% (13.1% Y/Y) for the third consecutive month of strong gain.

Discretionary spending continued strong as evidenced by a 0.6% (8.2% y/y) rise in furniture & electronics store sales which followed an upwardly revised 1.4% September surge. Sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) jumped 1.2% (12.2% y/y) and general merchandise store sales rose 1.2% (7.1% y/y). Apparel store sales in October made up for the prior month's dip and ballooned 3.1% (6.5% y/y) even though apparel prices recently have been under pressure (-0.7% y/y thru September).

Today's U.S. Senate Testimony of Ben S. Bernanke is available here.

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

  Oct Sept Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Retail Sales & Food Services -0.1% 0.3% 5.7% 7.3% 4.3% 2.5%
  Excluding Autos 0.9% 1.4% 9.9% 8.3% 4.7% 3.3%
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