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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Improvement Led by Autos
by Tom Moeller  December 11, 2014

Overall retail sales including food services increased 0.7% during November following a 0.5% October gain, revised from 0.3%. A 0.4% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Sales excluding autos rose 0.5% (4.3% y/y) following a 0.4% gain, revised from 0.3%. A 0.1% uptick had been expected. During the last ten years, there has been a 58% correlation between the y/y change in retail sales and the change in disposable personal income.

Higher motor vehicle sales led last month's total increase with a 1.7% gain (8.6% y/y) on the heels of a 0.8% rise. The latest gain reflected a 4.5% rise (5.6% y/y) in unit sales. Building materials & garden equipment purchases rose 1.4% (7.8% y/y) after a 0.4% improvement while clothing store sales jumped 1.2% (3.6% y/y), double the prior month's increase. Purchases from nonstore retailers increased 1.0% (8.7% y/y) after a 1.6% rise. Sales of electronics & home furnishings gained 0.9% (6.8% y/y) and made up the prior month's decline while furniture sales improved 0.5% (2.1% y/y) following a 0.7% rise. Sales at general merchandise stores gained 0.5% (2.6% y/y) after a 0.1% uptick while sporting goods store sales rose 0.3% (3.2% y/y) after a 1.8% jump. Gasoline service station sales declined 0.8% (-2.1% y/y) with lower prices following a 1.3% fall. Sales at eating & drinking establishments rose 0.7% (6.7% y/y), half the prior month's increase.

In the nondiscretionary spending categories, sales at health & personal care stores gained 0.8% (6.8% y/y) following four months of near 0.3% increase. Food & beverage stores gained 0.3% (4.1% y/y) after a 0.2% rise.

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

Implied Taylor Rules among Forecasters from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is available here.

Retail Spending (%) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.7 0.5 -0.1 5.1 4.2 5.1 7.5
  Excluding Autos 0.5 0.4 0.1 4.3 3.0 4.2 6.9
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline & Building Supplies 0.6 0.7 0.3 4.8 3.2 4.0 5.4
Retail Sales 0.7 0.4 -0.2 4.9 4.3 5.0 7.6
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 1.7 0.8 -0.7 8.6 9.3 9.1 9.9
 Retail Less Autos 0.4 0.3 -0.1 3.9 3.0 4.0 7.1
  Gasoline Stations -0.8 -1.3 -0.8 -2.1 -0.4 4.2 18.3
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales 0.7 1.4 1.0 6.7 3.0 5.9 6.0
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