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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail: Less Spent on Gasoline, More on Other Stuff 
by Tom Moeller December 13, 2005

US retail sales increased 0.3% for the third straight month in November. The increase about matched Consensus expectations for a 0.4% rise and October's gain was upwardly revised. Less autos, retail sales fell 0.3% versus expectations for no change.

A 16.9% drop in pump prices weighed heavily on last month's sales tally and it fostered a 5.9% m/m drop in sales at gasoline service stations. Gas prices in December have stabilized w/w around $2.17 per gallon, down a dime from the November average.

Less gasoline, nonauto retail sales rose 0.5% (7.6% y/y) following a little revised 1.0% October gains. For the fourth straight month sales at building material & supply dealers ballooned, last month by 1.9% (14.5% y/y).

Discretionary spending continued firm and added marginally to strong October gains. Apparel store sales added 0.2% (7.3% y/y) to a 2.6% pop and general merchandise store sales rose 0.1% (6.7% y/y) on top of a strong 1.1% October increase.

A little less firm were sales at furniture & electronics stores which rose just 0.1% (6.6% y/y) following a 0.3% drop in October. Sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) also fell by 0.2% (10.3% y/y) after a 0.8% October increase.

  Nov Oct Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Retail Sales & Food Services 0.3% 0.3% 6.3% 7.3% 4.3% 2.5%
  Excluding Autos -0.3% 0.8% 8.7% 8.2% 4.7% 3.3%
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