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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Post Uneven Increases
by Tom Moeller  June 12, 2014

The improved labor market is spurring more consumer purchases. Retail and food service sales gained 0.3% during May following a 0.5% April advance, revised from 0.1%. A 0.5% increase had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Sales of motor vehicles & parts increased 1.4% (10.4% y/y), following strong gains during the prior three months. Outside of auto dealer showrooms, however, sales posted disparate performance. Nonauto sales less gasoline & building materials slipped 0.1% (3.0% y/y), roughly matching expectations, after an upwardly revised 0.2% gain.

In the discretionary spending categories, clothing & accessory store sales declined 0.6% (+1.4% y/y) after a 1.2% rise. Sales at general merchandise store sales also fell 0.6% (+0.9% y/y) following 0.9% increases during the prior two months. Electronics & appliance store sales fell 0.3% (+1.3% y/y) after a 0.7% decline. Restaurant sales fell 0.2% (+4.1% y/y), about the same as during April. Sporting goods store sales slipped 0.1% (-1.5% y/y) following a 1.4% jump. To the upside, nonstore retailers sales gained 0.6% (7.4% y/y) after a 0.8% decline while furniture store sales increased 0.5% (6.5% y/y) after strong gains in the prior three months.

In the nondiscretionary spending categories, sales at food & beverage stores slipped 0.1% (+1.9% y/y) following little-change during the prior two months. Sales at health & personal care stores also were off 0.1% (+5.2% y/y) after 0.7% increases in the prior three months. Gasoline service station sales increased 0.4% (0.4% y/y) following a 0.9% 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 2013 2012 2011
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.3 0.5 1.5 4.3 4.2 5.1 7.5
  Excluding Autos 0.1 0.4 0.9 2.8 3.0 4.2 6.9
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline & Building Supplies -0.1 0.2 1.1 3.0 3.3 4.0 5.4
Retail Sales 0.4 0.6 1.5 4.3 4.3 5.0 7.6
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 1.4 0.9 3.9 10.4 9.3 9.1 9.9
 Retail Less Autos 0.1 0.5 0.8 2.6 3.0 4.0 7.1
  Gasoline Stations 0.4 0.9 -1.0 0.4 -0.4 4.2 18.3
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales -0.2 -0.3 1.7 4.1 3.0 5.9 6.0
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