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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Decline
by Tom Moeller  October 15, 2014

Retail and food service sales fell 0.3% during September (+4.3% y/y) following an unrevised 0.6% August gain. A 0.1% slip had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Sales were led lower by a 0.8% drop (+9.5% y/y) in motor vehicle purchases. Sales excluding autos fell 0.2% (+3.1% y/y) after a 0.3% August gain, and disappointed expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey for a 0.2% increase.

The decline in auto sales followed a 1.9% jump in August and reflected a 6.3% drop (+6.6% y/y) in unit purchases. Sales in other discretionary spending categories were mixed. Furniture store sales declined 0.8% (+0.3% y/y) but electronics & appliance store sales jumped 3.4% (5.8% y/y). Apparel store sales fell 1.2% (+2.7% y/y) while general merchandisers posted a 0.2% sales gain (2.7% y/y). Sales of nonstore retailers declined 1.1% (+5.4% y/y) but sales at restaurants & drinking establishments improved 0.6% (7.1% y/y). Building materials sales fell 1.1% (+3.4% y/y) and gasoline service station sales were off 0.8% (-2.5% y/y).

In the nondiscretionary spending categories, sales at health & personal care stores gained 0.3% (5.0% y/y) for the third straight month. Food & beverage stores were roughly stable (+2.4% y/y).

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

Retail Spending (%) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
Total Retail Sales & Food Services -0.3 0.6 0.3 4.3 4.2 5.1 7.5
  Excluding Autos -0.2 0.3 0.2 3.1 3.0 4.2 6.9
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline & Building Supplies -0.0 0.5 0.3 3.9 3.2 4.0 5.4
Retail Sales -0.4 0.6 0.2 4.0 4.3 5.0 7.6
  Motor Vehicle & Parts -0.8 1.9 0.7 9.5 9.3 9.1 9.9
 Retail Less Autos -0.3 0.2 0.1 2.5 3.0 4.0 7.1
  Gasoline Stations -0.8 -1.1 -0.0 -2.5 -0.4 4.2 18.3
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales 0.6 0.6 0.5 7.1 3.0 5.9 6.0
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