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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Edge Higher Despite Lower Gasoline Prices
by Tom Moeller  May 13, 2013

There was broad-based improvement in retail purchases last month. Retail sales during April nudged up 0.1% (3.7% y/y) following a 0.5% slip in March, earlier reported as -0.4%. Earlier numbers also were revised. The latest figure contrasted with expectations for a 0.3% decline, according to Action Economics. Retail sales excluding autos slipped an expected 0.1% (+2.8% y/y) after a 0.6% March decline.

Gasoline service station sales fell 4.7% (-4.6% y/y) after a 3.2% decline as gas prices continued lower. Sales of motor vehicles & parts gained 1.0% (7.7% y/y, although unit vehicle sales declined m/m. Building material sales also rose a strong 1.5% (4.1% y/y) and made up a 1.0% March drop. Spending outside of these three areas is used in calculating gross domestic product, and sales gained 0.5% (3.7% y/y) last month after a 0.1% uptick.

Apparel store sales increased 1.2% (5.7% y/y) after a 0.7% rise in March. That increase was followed by a 1.0% (-0.7% y/y) rise in general merchandise store purchases after a 0.7% decline. Sales at electronics and appliance stores gained 0.8% (0.4% y/y) and recovered a piece of the prior month's 1.9% slump. On the weak side, sales of furniture & home furnishing stores were unchanged (3.9% y/y) after a 1.1% spurt. Food & beverage store sales fell 0.8% (+2.0% y/y) but a 0.8% rise (4.5% y/y) in restaurant sales offset this weakness. Sales of nonstore retailers jumped 1.4% (15.4% y/y) following a 0.7% rise during March.   

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

The Evolution of Debt Balances from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland can be found   here .

 

Retail Spending (%) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.1 -0.5 1.1 3.7 5.0 8.0 5.5
  Excluding Autos -0.1 -0.4 1.1 2.8 4.4 7.4 4.5
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline & Building Supplies 0.5 0.1 0.5 3.7 4.4 6.0 3.5
Retail Sales -0.0 -0.6 1.3 3.6 4.8 8.3 5.8
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 1.0 -0.6 1.4 7.7 7.7 10.8 10.8
 Retail excluding Autos -0.3 -0.6 1.3 2.5 4.0 7.6 4.7
  Gasoline Stations -4.7 -3.2 5.3 -4.6 3.7 17.8 14.7
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales 0.8 0.5 -0.5 4.5 7.1 5.9 3.2
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