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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Decline; Nonauto Sales Weaken
by Tom Moeller  June 14, 2017

Total retail sales and spending at restaurants fell 0.3% during May (+6.0% y/y) following an unrevised 0.4% April rise. A 0.1% increase had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Sales at motor vehicle & parts dealerships eased 0.2% (+6.8% y/y) after a 0.5% increase. The decline compares to a 1.3% fall (-3.0% y/y) in unit motor vehicle sales. Retail sales excluding autos decreased 0.3% (+5.8%) following a 0.4% gain during April, revised from 0.2%. A 0.2% rise had been expected.

Spending on nonauto discretionary items was mixed last month. Sales of electronics & appliances fell 2.8% (-0.7% y/y) and reversed the April increase. Purchases at gasoline & service stations declined 2.4% (+6.5% y/y) following m/m stability. Sales at furniture & home furnishings stores were off by 1.1% (+3.4% y/y) after a 0.9% increase. Sporting goods, hobby shop, book & music store sales fell 0.6% (-2.9% y/y) following a 0.4% rise. General merchandise store sales eased 0.3% (+1.3% y/y) after a 0.7% gain. Building material store sales were little changed (+14.2% y/y) after a 0.6% increase. To the upside were nonstore retail sales which increased 0.8% (12.4% y/y) after a 0.9% rise. Apparel store sales improved 0.3% (2.1% y/y) following a 0.2% gain.

In the nondiscretionary sector, health & personal care store sales held steady (2.2% y/y) after three months of strong increase. Food & beverage store sales improved 0.1% (3.1% y/y) following a 0.2% gain.

Restaurant sales eased 0.1% (+1.8% y/y), down for the fourth straight month.

The retail sales data can be found in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economics forecast expectations are included in the AS1REPNA database.

Retail Spending (%) May Apr Mar May Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total Retail Sales & Food Services -0.3 0.4 0.1 6.0 3.2 2.6 4.3
  Excluding Autos -0.3 0.4 0.3 5.8 3.0 1.4 3.8
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline -0.0 0.5 0.4 5.8 3.9 4.2 4.6
Retail Sales -0.3 0.5 0.1 6.6 2.9 1.9 4.1
  Motor Vehicle & Parts -0.2 0.5 -0.5 6.8 4.1 7.3 6.4
 Retail Less Autos -0.3 0.5 0.3 6.5 2.5 0.4 3.4
  Gasoline Stations -2.4 -0.0 -1.0 6.5 -5.7 -17.6 -2.0
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales -0.1 -0.2 -0.1 1.8 5.9 8.1 6.1
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