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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Spending Continues To Grow
by Tom Moeller  November 15, 2011

Consumer spending continued on a moderate growth track last month. October retail & food service sales increased 0.5% following an unrevised 1.1% September gain. The October increase roughly matched Consensus expectations for a 0.4% rise, according to the Action Economics survey. Three-month growth in sales rose to 8.2% (AR), its highest in six months.

Last month's sales strength was led by a 3.7% surge (3.5% y/y) in electronics, a 1.5% increase (5.6% y/y) in building materials and a 1.5% gain (11.1% y/y) in non-store retailers. Sales at food & beverage stores also posted a strong 1.1% gain (6.3% y/y) while food service & drinking places expenditures increased 0.4% (6.7% y/y) following the 1.2% September jump. Motor vehicles also rose 0.4% (7.0% y/y) in conjunction with the 1.2% gain in unit purchases.

Sales of other discretionary items were soft. Sales at clothing & accessory stores fell 0.7% (+5.8% y/y) while sales of furniture & home furnishings also were off 0.7% (+3.4% y/y). Sales at general merchandise stores slipped marginally (+3.8% y/y). Gasoline service station sales also declined 0.4% (+15.6% y/y). Gas prices slipped 0.3% when seasonally adjusted by Haver. Excluding both autos and gasoline, retail sales increased 0.8% last month (6.0% y/y), roughly double the gains of the prior three months.

The retail sales figure are available in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economics figures are in the AS1REPNA database.

Retail Spending (%) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.5 1.1 0.3 7.2 6.4 -7.0 -1.2
  Excluding Autos 0.6 0.5 0.5 7.3 5.7 -5.5 2.1
Retail Sales 0.6 1.1 0.3 7.3 6.8 -7.8 -1.6
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 0.4 4.2 -0.8 7.0 10.0 -13.7 -14.0
 Retail excluding Autos 0.6 0.4 0.5 7.4 6.1 -6.3 2.1
  Gasoline Stations -0.4 0.7 0.5 15.6 16.9 -22.2 10.4
 Non-Auto Less Gasoline 0.8 0.4 0.5 6.0 4.2 -2.9 0.9
Food Service 0.4 1.2 0.5 6.7 2.7 -0.5 2.2
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