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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Gain After Falling For Three Months
by Tom Moeller  August 14, 2012

Finally the consumer grew tired of not spending and July retail sales rose 0.8%. The gain followed a deepened 0.7% June drop and a downwardly revised 0.1% May dip. A 0.3% increase in July sales was expected according to Action Economics. Less autos, retail sales rose 0.8% versus expectations for a 0.4% rise. Nonauto sales declined 0.8% in June and 0.3% in May, both of which were revised deeper.

Sales of building materials provided much of recent month's sales weakness. A 1.0% July recovery (+1.0% y/y) followed three months of decline between 2.1% and 3.2%. Lower gasoline prices also have depressed recent month's total spending. A 0.5% gain (-2.6% y/y) last month followed three months of decline between 1.7% and 3.4%. Auto sales rose 0.8% (8.2% y/y) in July. Less these three categories July sales rose 0.9% (3.8% y/y) after a 0.2% June drop.

Discretionary spending fared better last month as indicated by a 1.0% rise (4.2% y/y) in sales of home furnishings, appliances and electronics. Furniture store sales rose 1.1% (9.9% y/y) while appliance and electronics purchases gained 0.9% (-0.8% y/y). Sales of apparel & accessory stores also increased 0.8% (5.0% y/y) following moderate gains in the prior two months. Sales of general merchandise rose 0.7% (0.6% y/y) following four consecutive monthly declines. Food & beverages store sales gained 0.8% (7.3% y/y). Sales of nonstore retailers rose a strong 1.5% (11.8% y/y), the strongest gain of the last four months.

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

Retail Spending(%) Jul Jun May Jul Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.8 -0.7 -0.1 4.1 8.0 5.5 -7.1
  Excluding Autos 0.8 -0.8 -0.3 3.2 7.3 4.5 -5.7
Retail Sales 0.8 -0.8 -0.1 3.7 8.2 5.8 -7.9
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 0.8 -0.5 0.8 8.2 10.9 10.8 -13.9
 Retail excluding Autos 0.8 -0.9 -0.3 2.7 7.6 4.7 -6.4
  Gasoline Stations 0.5 -3.4 -2.2 -2.6 17.9 14.7 -22.0
 Non-Auto Less Gasoline 0.9 -0.4 0.0 3.6 5.9 3.2 -3.4
Food Service 0.8 -0.2 -0.3 7.3 5.9 3.2 -0.9
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