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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Remain Unchanged After Five Months of Increase
by Tom Moeller  August 13, 2014

Retail and food service sales were unchanged (3.7% y/y) during July following an unrevised 0.2% June rise. A 0.3% increase had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Fewer sales of motor vehicles & parts limited last month's result as they declined 0.2% (+6.0% y/y) following a 0.3% drop. Nonauto sales ticked 0.1% higher (3.6% y/y), disappointing expectations for a 0.4% rise.

Sales were lackluster in other discretionary spending categories. General merchandise store sales fell 0.5% (+1.1% y/y) following a 0.4% gain. Sales of furniture & appliances slipped 0.1% (+1.9% y/y), weak for the fourth straight month and sales of nonstore retailers edged 0.1% lower (+5.9% y/y) after a 0.6% rise. Better results occurred at clothing & accessory stores where sales improved 0.4% (1.6% y/y) after a 0.2% rise. Also, sales of building materials & garden equipment increased 0.2% (5.1% y/y) following strong gains during the prior four months. Sporting goods store sales rose 0.2% (-2.3% y/y) after a 0.7% rise while restaurant sales improved 0.2% (6.2% y/y), repeating June's improvement.

In the nondiscretionary spending categories, sales at health & personal care stores gained 0.4% (7.3% y/y) after a 1.0% jump. Food & beverage stores increased 0.3% (3.1% y/y) following a 0.9% rise while gasoline service station sales ticked 0.1% higher (-1.2% y/y) after a 0.8% drop.

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 2013 2012 2011
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.0 0.2 0.4 3.7 4.2 5.1 7.5
  Excluding Autos 0.1 0.4 0.4 3.1 3.0 4.2 6.9
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline & Building Supplies 0.1 0.5 0.2 3.6 3.3 4.0 5.4
Retail Sales 0.0 0.2 0.4 3.4 4.3 5.0 7.6
  Motor Vehicle & Parts -0.2 -0.3 0.7 6.0 9.3 9.1 9.9
 Retail Less Autos 0.1 0.4 0.3 2.7 3.0 4.0 7.1
  Gasoline Stations 0.1 -0.8 0.5 -1.2 -0.4 4.2 18.3
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales 0.2 0.2 1.1 6.2 3.0 5.9 6.0
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