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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Dipped As Expected, Internet & Catalogue Sales Jumped
by Tom Moeller August 13, 2008

U.S. retail sales last month dipped 0.1%, right on Consensus expectations. The decline followed an upwardly revised June rise of 0.3%. On a three-month basis overall retail sales rose at a 4.1% annual rate, even with last year's 4.0% increase.

The overall gain was diminished by another sharp decline in sales of motor vehicles & parts. A 2.4% drop (-10.5% y/y) followed the 2.1% June decline (revised shallower) and they are down at a 19.7% annual rate during the last three months.

Retail sales excluding autos rose 0.4% in July. That increase about equaled Consensus expectations.

Higher gas prices again lifted retail sales last month. Sales at gasoline service stations increased 0.8% (24.6% y/y) after gains of 4.0% and 3.3% during the prior two months.

Less gasoline & autos, retail sales rose 0.3% (3.4% y/y) following an upwardly revised 0.4% increase during June. Still, the latest increase was the weakest since February. Sales on a three-month basis rose at a firm 6.4% annual rate.

Purchases made from home continued strong as July sales of nonstore retailers (internet & catalogue) jumped 1.1% (7.7% y/y). That followed an unrevised 0.8% June increase. On a three-month basis these sales rose at a 12.4% annual rate.

Sales at general merchandise stores rose 0.3% (5.2% y/y) following an upwardly revised 0.6% gain during June. Sales offurniture, home furnishings & appliance reversed the June decline and rose 0.9% (-0.2% y/y). Sales of furniture & home furnishings rose 1.0% (-4.8% y/y). Apparel store sales ticked up 0.2% (0.9% y/y).

Building materials & garden equipment sales reversed their June decline and rose 0.3% (-1.0% y/y).

Unanchored Expectations? Interpreting the Evidence from Inflation Surveys from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.

  July June Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Retail Sales & Food Services -0.1% 0.3% 2.6% 4.0% 5.8% 6.4%
  Excluding Autos 0.4% 0.9% 6.0% 4.5% 6.8% 7.5%
    Less Gasoline 0.3% 0.4% 3.4% 4.1% 6.2% 6.4%
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