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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Likely Constrained By Harsh Weather
by Tom Moeller  February 13, 2014

Retail spending declined 0.4% (+2.6% y/y) during January following a 0.1% December slip, revised down from +0.2%. The latest decline fell short of a 0.1% rise expected in the Action Economics survey. A 2.1% y/y decline (+4.1 y/y) in sales of motor vehicles & parts held back January sales. Nonauto retail sales were virtually unchanged (+2.2% y/y) after a downwardly revised 0.3% December increase. A 0.2% increase had been expected.

In the discretionary spending category, clothing & accessory sales declined 0.9% (+1.2% y/y) after a 0.7% December gain. Furniture & home furnishings store purchases were off 0.6% (-2.4% y/y) after two months of even larger decline while sales of nonstore retailers likewise fell 0.6% (+6.5% y/y) following a 1.3% December rise. Sales at food & drinking establishments also declined 0.6% (+2.3 y/y) after a 0.7% December drop while general merchandise store sales slipped 0.1% (+0.2% y/y), the third consecutive down month. Offsetting these shortfalls was a 1.4% jump (3.7% y/y) in sales at building materials stores. In addition, sales at electronics & appliance stores gained 0.4%, but were off 4.7% y/y, following two months of sharp decline.

Nondiscretionary purchases were generally firmer. Sales at gasoline stations increased 1.1% (1.0% y/y) following a 1.5% December rise. Food store sales gained 0.2% (4.3% y/y) after a 1.7% December jump. Sales at health & personal care stores, however, declined 0.6% (+2.9% y/y), the second decline in the last three months.

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

Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs? from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

Retail Spending (%) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
Total Retail Sales & Food Services -0.4 -0.1 0.3 2.6 4.3 5.3 7.5
  Excluding Autos -0.0 0.3 -0.2 2.2 3.3 4.8 7.0
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline & Building Supplies -0.3 0.3 -0.1 2.4 3.5 4.3 5.4
Retail Sales -0.4 -0.0 0.2 2.6 4.3 5.1 7.7
  Motor Vehicle & Parts -2.1 -1.8 2.0 4.1 8.9 7.5 10.1
 Retail Less Autos 0.1 0.4 -0.3 2.2 3.2 4.5 7.1
  Gasoline Stations 1.1 1.5 -1.7 1.0 -0.7 4.1 18.4
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales -0.6 -0.7 1.1 2.3 4.2 7.1 6.0
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