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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Spending Increase Is Fourth In A Row
by Tom Moeller   November 15, 2010

The consumer indicated that despite a generally cautious mood, wallets were opened last month. Retail spending rose 1.2% during October following a 0.7% increase that was revised from 0.6%. The last was higher than expectations for a 0.7% increase. Spending on motor vehicles and parts, for the second month, showed the most pronounced increase. A 5.0% gain in auto spending reflected a 4.2% m/m increase in unit light vehicle sales reported earlier this month. Excluding autos, retail sales rose an expected 0.4%. Minus autos & gasoline retail spending also rose 0.4% despite a 0.8% rise in gasoline sales.

Shopping at building materials and hardware stores led last month's sales gains with a 1.9% rise (12.2% y/y) after two months of 1.3% increase. Apparel store sales followed with a 0.7% gain (3.5% y/y) following declines in five of the prior six months. General merchandise store sales rose just 0.2% (2.0% y/y) after a 0.1% September uptick. Furniture store sales fell 0.7% (+2.9% y/y) following three months of modest gains and sales at electronics appliance stores also fell 0.7% (+3.6% y/y).

Interest in dining out was modest as sales at food service and drinking places increased 0.3% (4.3% y/y). Again, most retail shopping was done on-line. Sales of non-store retailers posted a 0.8% rise (13.5% y/y) after increases of 1.4% and 1.8% during the prior two months.

Retail Spending (%) Oct Sept Aug Oct. Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 1.2 0.7 0.9 7.3 -6.3 -1.0 3.3
 Excluding Autos 0.4 0.5 1.0 6.0 -5.1 2.3 3.9
Retail Sales 1.3 0.8 0.9 7.7 -7.1 -1.4 3.1
   Motor Vehicle & Parts 5.0 1.5 0.2 14.0 -12.0 -13.9 0.8
   Retail excluding Autos 0.5 0.6 1.0 6.2 -5.1 2.3 3.9
   Gasoline 0.8 1.2 1.6 12.3 -24.7 9.9 6.8
   Non-Auto Less Gasoline 0.5 0.6 1.0 5.1 -2.4 1.0 3.3
Food Service 0.3 0.0 0.8 4.3 0.6 2.4 5.2
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