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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Rebound 
by Tom Moeller April 13, 2006

US retail sales rebounded 0.6% last month from a 0.8% decline during February that was revised from the 1.3% drop reported initially. Consensus expectations has been for a for a 0.5% gain.

Motor vehicle & parts dealers sales rebounded 1.6% (3.3% y/y) from a 2.8% February decline, initially reported at -4.6%. The rise compared to a slight 0.1% m/m decline in auto sales to 16.59M units.

Nonauto sales increased 0.4% after a 0.3% February decline that was slightly milder than the 0.4% fall in the advance report and was a bit short of Consensus expectations for a 0.5% increase.

Consumer spending on discretionary items was flat during March. General merchandise store sales rose 0.1% (6.4% y/y) after a 0.1% February slip. Apparel store sales registered a negligible decline (+6.6% y/y) after a 1.1% skid one month earlier while sales of furniture, electronics & appliances slipped 0.2% (+7.1% y/y) on the heels of a 2.9% flop during February.

Building material sales were an area of strength last month and posted a 1.2% (17.9% y/y) increase after a downwardly revised 0.4% February increase. The February increase contrasted with the 1.5% jump estimated initially.

Sales at gasoline stations slipped 0.1% (+13.6% y/y) though retail gasoline prices rose 6.3% m/m to $2.43 per gallon.

Nonauto retail sales less gasoline rose 0.4% (8.7% y/y) last month following a 0.1% slip during February.

Sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) increased 1.6% (14.1% y/y) after a little revised 3.1% jump during February.

Recent Developments in Consumer Credit and Payments from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is available here.

  Mar Feb Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Retail Sales & Food Services 0.6% -0.8% 7.9% 7.2% 6.2% 4.2%
  Excluding Autos 0.4% -0.3% 9.2% 8.2% 7.2% 4.7%
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