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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales About As Expected
by Tom Moeller November 14 2007

U.S. retail sales last month rose 0.2% after the 0.7% September increase which revised up slightly. The gain matched expectations and the prior month's 0.7% was revised up slightly.

Excluding autos, sales rose 0.2% and the prior month's gain of 0.4% was revised down slightly to 0.3%. A 0.3% October increase had been expected.

Nonauto retail sales less gasoline ticked up just 0.1% (3.9% y/y) after an unrevised 0.2% rise in September. The 0.1% decline during August was revised down to a 0.5% drop.

Sales of discretionary items were generally weak last month. Furniture, home furnishings & appliance stores sales fell 0.4% (0.8% y/y) and the prior month's gain was revised down to a 0.8% decline. Sales have declined in four of the last five months. Sales at general merchandise stores fell 0.1% (+3.6 y/y). Apparel store sales rose 0.1% (4.4% y/y) but the prior month's decline was revised up to a 0.1% increase.

Building material sales rose a firm 0.6% (1.3% y/y) though the prior month's gain of 0.8% was revised down to a 0.4% decline.

Sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) fell 1.0% (5.9% y/y) after a little revised 0.9% September increase.

Motor vehicle & parts purchases rose 0.2% (5.0% y/y) but unit sales of light vehicles fell 1.1% m/m in October.

Gasoline service station sales rose 0.8% after the 1.8% September gain. Higher gas prices should lift this month's increase.

The recent Treasury Dept. study of Income Mobility is available here.

  October September Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Retail Sales & Food Services 0.2% 0.7% 5.2% 6.2% 6.6% 6.1%
  Excluding Autos 0.2% 0.3% 5.2% 7.3% 7.6% 7.1%
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