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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Post a Surprisingly Firm Gain
by Tom Moeller  June 13, 2013

The consumer remains in a spending mood. Retail sales during May rose 0.6% (4.3% y/y) following an unrevised 0.1% April uptick. The latest figure beat consensus expectations for a 0.4% gain, according to Action Economics. Retail sales excluding autos increased an expected 0.3% (3.4% y/y) after no change in April.

Sales of motor vehicles & parts increased 1.8% (7.7% y/y as unit motor vehicle sales, reported earlier this month, rose 2.6% (9.7% y/y). Building material sales also gained a firm 0.9% (10.1% y/y) on the heels of April's 3.6% surge. Gasoline service station sales slipped 0.2% (-1.6% y/y). Spending outside of these three areas is used in calculating gross domestic product, and sales increased 0.3% (3.5% y/y) last month after a 0.2% April rise.

Firmer general merchandise store purchases led last month's rise with a 0.5% (1.1% y/y) increase. That followed a 0.3% April slip. The gain was offset by widespread declines elsewhere. Furniture store sales fell 0.8% (-0.5% y/y) after a 0.2% April slip. Sales at electronics & appliance stores dipped 0.4% (-0.5% y/y) following a 1.6% jump. Apparel store sales slipped 0.2% (+3.8% y/y) after a 1.0% jump. Finally, food service and drinking place sales fell 0.4% (+4.4% y/y). Working the other way, sales of nonstore retailers gained 0.7% (11.3% y/y) after a 0.6% April rise.

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

 

Retail Spending (%) May Apr Mar May Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.6 0.1 -0.3 4.3 5.3 7.5 5.5
  Excluding Autos 0.3 0.0 -0.3 3.4 4.8 7.0 4.5
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline & Building Supplies 0.3 0.2 0.2 3.5 4.8 5.5 3.5
Retail Sales 0.7 0.0 -0.4 4.3 5.1 7.7 5.8
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 1.8 0.7 -0.4 8.5 7.6 10.1 10.6
 Retail Less Autos 0.4 -0.1 -0.4 3.2 4.4 7.1 4.6
  Gasoline Stations -0.2 -3.1 -3.1 -1.6 4.0 18.4 14.6
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales -0.4 1.1 0.9 4.4 7.1 6.0 3.2
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