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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Larger than Expected
by Tom Moeller August 10, 2006

US retail sales in July increased 1.4% from the previous month beating consensus expectations of 0.8%. Nonauto retail sales were also larger than expected, increasing 1.0% on a monthly basis. Consensus expectations for nonauto retail sales had been for a 0.5% increase in sales last month.

Leading the increase was sales by motor vehicle & parts dealers which rose 3.06% in July reversing the previous month's sales decline of 2.48%.

Building material sales jumped 1.85% (10.89% y/y) after three consecutive months of decline.

Sales at gasoline stations went up 2.55% (19.23% y/y) boosted by an increase in gasoline prices from an average of $2.89 per gallon in June to $2.98 per gallon in July.

Less gasoline, nonauto retail sales rose 1.26% from the previous month and 3.32% from a year ago.

Sales of discretionary items were also higher last month. Sales of furniture, electronics & appliances increased 1.18% (8.89% y/y) after a 0.8% gain during June. General merchandise stores rose 0.3% (5.05% y/y) while apparel store sales rose 0.7% (7.6% y/y). Sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) were up 2.05% (15.6% y/y).

  July June Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Retail Sales & Food Services 1.40% -0.40% 4.8% 7.2% 6.2% 4.2%
  Excluding Autos 0.98% 0.13% 9.2% 8.2% 7.2% 4.7%
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