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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Spending Improves For A Second Month Though Q3 Still Weak
by Tom Moeller   September 14, 2010

Consumers are getting back on their feet. Retail spending rose last month by 0.4% following a little-revised 0.3% July increase. The last was slightly greater-than-expectations for a 0.3% increase and came despite a 0.7% drop in spending on motor vehicles and parts. That drop mirrored the decline in unit vehicle sales reported earlier this month. Less autos, retail sales rose 0.6%, an increase that was twice the Consensus expectation. Higher gasoline prices did help fuel the July increase, but less autos & gasoline, sales still rose 0.5%.

The recent good sales news does not fully make up for earlier malaise. So far this quarter, however, sales are roughly even with Q2 when sales rose at a 3.9% annual rate. 

Sales at apparel stores showed real strength last month with a 1.2% increase (3.9% y/y) following four months of decline. Also, food store sales rose 1.3% (2.2% y/y) but that followed five months of decline. Sales at general merchandise stores rose 0.4% (3.0% y/y) for the third consecutive month of increase. Sales at electronics & appliance stores fell 1.1% (+4.3% y/y) after a 0.3% July drop. Finally, furniture & home furnishings store sales fell 0.5% (+2.4% y/y) and gave back the July increase. 

Retail & Food Service Sales August July June August Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total Retail & Food Services 0.4 0.3 -0.3 3.6 -6.3 -1.0 3.3
   Retail Sales 0.5 0.3 -0.3 3.7 -7.1 -1.4 3.1
     Motor Vehicle & Parts -0.7 1.0 -1.6 -1.5 -12.0 -13.9 0.8
   Retail excluding Autos 0.6 0.1 -0.0 4.8 -5.1 2.3 3.9
     Gasoline 1.9 2.2 -2.4 9.6 -24.7 9.9 6.8
     Non-Auto Less Gasoline 0.5 -0.2 0.4 4.3 -2.4 1.0 3.3
   Food Service 0.1 -0.1 0.0 2.9 0.6 2.4 5.2
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