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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales in Line With Forecasts in August but Trend Down
by Tom Moeller September 14, 2007

U.S. August, retail sales rose 0.3% after an upwardly revised 0.5% gain in July. The overall rise was in line with Consensus expectations for a 0.5% increase.

A shortfall, however, was registered by sales excluding autos which fell 0.4%. Any disappointment in that decline was mitigated by the upward revision to the July increase in sales to 0.7% from 0.4% reported initially. Consensus expectations were for a 0.2% gain in August.

Nonauto retail sales less gasoline fell 0.1%r (4.9% y/y) after a July gain that was revised to 0.8% from 0.6% reported last month.

Sales of discretionary items were generally firm last month. Furniture, home furnishings & appliance stores rose 0.4% (2.5% y/y) after an upwardly revised 1.5% July increase that was nearly double the initial report. Sales at general merchandise stores rose 0.3% (5.6% y/y) after rising an unrevised 0.9% in July.Apparel store sales were the disappointment and fell 0.1% after a little revised 1.6% July.

Reflecting weakness in the housing market, building material sales fell a hard 1.0% (-0.1% y/y) in August following a 0.8% July increase that was revised up from 0.2%.

Sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) fell 1.0% (+6.9% y/y) but the prior month's initially reported gain of 0.4% was revised up to 1.3%.

Sales by motor vehicle & parts dealers rose 2.8% (3.0% y/y) but the 0.3% increase that was reported last month was revised now to show a 1.4% decline. Unit vehicle sales jumped 6.5% in August, spurred by new sales promotions.

Gasoline service station sales fell 2.4% reflecting a 1.7% m/m decline in gas prices at the pump to an average $2.79 per gallon (-3.4% y/y). The decline has since bottomed.

  August July Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Retail Sales & Food Services 0.3% 0.5% 3.7% 6.2% 6.6% 6.1%
  Excluding Autos -0.4% 0.7% 3.9% 7.3% 7.6% 7.1%
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