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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Recover as Internet Sales Jump
by Tom Moeller  November 14, 2014

Consumer spending regained buoyancy last month. Overall retail sales, including food services, improved 0.3% during October (4.1% y/y) following an unrevised 0.3% September decline. A 0.2% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Sales rebounded as motor vehicle purchases improved 0.5% (7.6% y/y) following a 1.2% decline. Sales excluding autos recovered 0.3% (3.3% y/y) after having been roughly unchanged, reported last month as a 0.2% drop. A 0.2% rise had been expected.

Sales of nonstore retailers led last month's recovery with a 1.9% surge (9.1% y/y) following a 0.3% rise. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, books & music stores followed with a 1.2% jump (1.7% y/y) preceded by a 0.5% increase. Food service & drinking establishments sales improved 0.9% (6.8% y/y) after two months of 0.7% increase. Apparel store sales gained 0.5% (0.4% y/y) and made up a portion of a 1.5% tumble while building material sales rose 0.4% (6.4% y/y) following a 0.6% drop. Furniture and home furnishings gained 0.2% last month (1.4% y/y) after no change. Electronics & appliance store sales, however, fell 1.6% (+1.6% y/y) following a 4.7% rise. General merchandise store sales were unchanged (2.0% y/y) after a 0.2% slip. Lower prices dragged down sales at gasoline service stations by 1.5% (-4.0% y/y), off for the fifth straight month.

In the nondiscretionary spending categories, sales at health & personal care stores gained 0.7% (6.6% y/y) following three months of near 0.4% increase. Food & beverage stores gained 0.2% (3.3% y/y) after two months of roughly 0.5% improvement.

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

Retail Spending (%) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.3 -0.3 0.6 4.1 4.2 5.1 7.5
  Excluding Autos 0.3 -0.0 0.3 3.3 3.0 4.2 6.9
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline & Building Supplies 0.6 0.1 0.6 4.1 3.2 4.0 5.4
Retail Sales 0.3 -0.4 0.6 3.8 4.3 5.0 7.6
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 0.5 -1.2 1.8 7.6 9.3 9.1 9.9
 Retail Less Autos 0.2 -0.1 0.2 2.8 3.0 4.0 7.1
  Gasoline Stations -1.5 -0.8 -1.5 -4.0 -0.4 4.2 18.3
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales 0.9 0.7 0.7 6.8 3.0 5.9 6.0
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