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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Light in December 
by Tom Moeller January 13, 2006

US retail sales rose 0.7% last month following an upwardly revised 0.8% increase in November. The increase, however, fell short of Consensus expectations for a 0.9% rise. In addition, sales less autos rose just half the expected 0.4% and the m/m decline in November was revised slightly deeper.

Discretionary spending faltered. Apparel store sales fell marginally after a downwardly revised 0.1% November decline (+7.1% y/y). General merchandise store sales also fell by 0.3% (+5.1% y/y) while sales of furniture, electronics & appliances were off 0.1% (+6.3% Y/Y). Sales at building material & supply dealers declined 0.6% (+9.7% y/y).

Sales at gasoline stations increased 0.9% despite a 3.2% decline in pump prices. Gas prices in January have reversed that decline and moved higher by 4.4% versus December.

Less gasoline, nonauto retail sales rose 0.1% (6.8% y/y), the weakest increase by far since July.

Sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) rose 0.5% (10.6% y/y) after an upwardly revised 0.4% increase during November.

  Dec Nov Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Retail Sales & Food Services 0.7% 0.8% 6.4% 7.6% 7.3% 4.3%
  Excluding Autos 0.2% -0.4% 8.0% 8.6% 8.2% 4.7%
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