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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Gain Slackens As Motor Vehicle Sales Decline
by Tom Moeller  August 13, 2013

Retail sales nudged up just 0.2% last month (5.4% y/y) following a revised June gain of 0.6%, initially reported as 0.4%. A 0.3% rise had been expected according to Action Economics. Retail sales excluding motor vehicles were stronger and posted a 0.5% rise after a 0.1% June uptick (4.0% y/y). The latest increase beat expectations for a 0.4% advance.

Fewer sales of motor vehicles & parts held back the overall gain in retail spending with a 1.0% decline (11.8% y/y. The drop accompanied a 0.5% shortfall (+11.2% y/y) in unit motor vehicle sales, reported earlier this month. That decline was accompanied by a 0.4% drop (+7.9% y/y) in building material sales. Gasoline service station sales rose 0.9% (4.9% y/y) as pump prices increased. Spending outside of these three areas is used in calculating gross domestic product, and sales gained 0.5% (3.2% y/y) last month following two months of 0.3% increase. 

Sales performance remained mixed amongst spending categories last month. To the upside were apparel store sales which rose 0.9% (4.2% y/y) following two months of decline. Food & beverage store sales increased 0.8% (3.3) and health & personal care products purchases rose 0.7% (1.4% y/y). Restaurant sales advanced 0.6% (3.9% y/y) while general merchandise store sales gained 0.4% (1.1% y/y). Spending at nonstore retailers ticked up just 0.1% (8.8% y/y) after a firm 1.5% June jump. To the downside, purchases at furniture & home furnishings stores declined 1.4% (+2.9% y/y) while sales of electronics and appliances slipped 0.1% (-0.4% y/y).

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

Retail Spending (%) Jul Jun May Jul Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.2 0.6 0.5 5.4 5.3 7.5 5.5
  Excluding Autos 0.5 0.1 0.2 4.0 4.8 7.0 4.5
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline & Building Supplies 0.5 0.3 0.3 3.2 4.3 5.4 3.5
Retail Sales 0.1 0.8 0.6 5.6 5.0 7.7 5.8
  Motor Vehicle & Parts -1.0 2.9 1.8 11.8 7.5 10.1 10.6
 Retail Less Autos 0.5 0.2 0.3 4.0 4.4 7.1 4.6
  Gasoline Stations 0.9 0.6 0.3 4.9 4.0 18.4 14.6
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales 0.6 -0.5 -0.7 3.9 7.2 6.0 3.2
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