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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Driven Higher by Durables and Internet Sales
by Tom Moeller  July 15, 2013

The consumer remains in a buying mood, but purchases last month were not broadly based. Retail sales increased 0.4% during June (5.7% y/y) following a 0.5% May increase, initially reported as 0.6%. A 0.7% rise had been expected according to Action Economics. Retail sales excluding autos were unchanged (4.5% y/y) after a 0.3% May gain. The latest figure disappointed expectations for a 0.4% rise.

Sales of motor vehicles & parts increased 1.8% (11.4% y/y as unit motor vehicle sales, reported earlier this month, rose 4.2% (11.0% y/y). That gain was offset by a 2.2% decline (9.4% y/y) in building material sales. Gasoline service station sales rose 0.7% (4.3% y/y) as pump prices increased. Spending outside of these three areas is used in calculating gross domestic product, and sales ticked up 0.1% (3.9% y/y) last month following 0.2% increases during the prior three months. 

Consumers were shopping the internet last month. Sales of nonstore retailers gained 2.1% (13.8% y/y) after a 0.4% May rise. Elsewhere, sales were mixed. Spending at furniture & home furnishings stores posted a 2.4% rise (4.6% y/y) although sales of electronics and appliances slipped 0.1% (-0.3% y/y). Clothing store sales rose 0.7% (4.8% y/y) but purchases at general merchandise stores nudged up just 0.1% (1.1% y/y). Health & personal care store sales rose 0.2% (3.0% y/y) yet food & beverage store sales slipped 0.1% (+0.3% y/y). Consumers became less inclined to eat out. Food service and drinking place sales fell 1.2% (+3.1% y/y) following a 0.6% May decline.

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

Retail Spending (%) Jun May Apr Jun Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.4 0.5 0.2 5.7 5.3 7.5 5.5
  Excluding Autos 0.0 0.3 -0.0 4.5 4.8 7.0 4.5
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline & Building Supplies 0.1 0.2 0.2 3.9 4.8 5.5 3.5
Retail Sales 0.6 0.7 0.1 6.0 5.0 7.7 5.8
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 1.8 1.4 1.0 11.4 7.5 10.1 10.6
 Retail Less Autos 0.2 0.5 -0.2 4.7 4.4 7.1 4.6
  Gasoline Stations 0.7 0.4 -3.1 4.3 4.0 18.4 14.6
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales -1.2 -0.6 1.0 3.1 7.1 6.0 3.2
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