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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Increase As Expected
by Tom Moeller June 13, 2006

US retail sales increased an expected 0.1% following an upwardly revised 0.8% rise during April. Retail sales during the first five months of 2006 rose at a 9.2% annual rate versus the 7.2% rise during all of last year.

Nonauto sales made up some of the prior month's disappointment and rose 0.5%. The 0.8% April increase was little revised. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.5% May increase.

Sales at gasoline stations jumped another 1.9% (21.9% y/y) due to the 6.0% m/m increase in retail gasoline prices to an average of $2.91 per gallon.

Less gasoline, nonauto retail sales rose 0.3% (7.5% y/y) following a 0.1% up tick during April which was downwardly revised. Year to date, nonauto retail sales less gasoline increased 8.4% at an annual rate versus a 6.7% increase during 2005.

Sales of discretionary items were mixed last month. General merchandise stores rose 0.3% (6.0% y/y) after a 0.7% increase during April and apparel store sales rose 0.2% (6.0% y/y) after two months of 0.5% increase. Sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) jumped 1.8% (14.1% y/y) and have risen 10.8% (AR) year to date. To the downside were sales of furniture, electronics & appliances which slipped 0.1% (+6.7% y/y) due to lower furniture sales (-0.5% m/m, +7.4% y/y). Building material sales also fell 0.4% (+11.2% y/y), down for the second consecutive month.

Sales by motor vehicle & parts dealers fell 1.6% (+1.9% y/y) and reflected a 3.9% m/m decline in unit auto sales to 16.10M.

  May April Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Retail Sales & Food Services 0.1% 0.8% 7.6% 7.2% 6.2% 4.2%
  Excluding Autos 0.5% 0.8% 9.1% 8.2% 7.2% 4.7%
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