Recent Updates

  • Pakistan: BOP (Sep)
  • China Sector: China: Energy Sector Statistics (Sep)
  • China Sector: China: Real Estate Statistics (Sep)
  • China Sector: China: Transportation Statistics (Sep)
  • France: Central Government Debt (Sep), Financing Access Survey (Q3)
  • more updates...

Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Ease Due to Broad-Based Weakness
by Tom Moeller  May 15, 2019

Total retail sales slipped 0.2% (+3.1% y/y) during April following a 1.7% March increase, revised from 1.6%. A 0.3% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, retail sales improved 0.1% (3.3% y/y) after rising 1.3%. A 0.7% gain had been expected.

Last month, a 1.1% decline (+2.2% y/y) in sales of motor vehicle & parts led the overall sales weakness, after a 3.2% March rise. This compared to a 6.1% decline in unit sales of motor vehicles during April.

A measure of the underlying pace of retail spending is nonauto sales growth excluding gasoline and building materials. These sales were unchanged during April (3.4% y/y) after a 1.1% increase.

Weakness in retail sales was pervasive. Sales of building materials & garden equipment stores were off 1.9% (+1.2% y/y) following a 0.8% increase. Electronics & appliance store sales declined 1.3% (-4.3% y/y) and reversed the prior month's rise. Clothing & accessory store sales eased 0.2% (+0.2% y/y) after a 2.1% jump. Sales via the internet also slipped 0.2% (+9.0% y/y) following three straight months of strong increase. Offsetting these declines was a 0.2% gain (2.7% y/y) in general merchandise store sales which added to a 0.7% rise. Sales by sporting goods, hobby, book & music retailers also improved 0.2% (-8.5% y/y) after a 0.3% decline.

Gasoline service station sales rose 1.8% (4.9% y/y) with higher prices, strong for the third straight month.

Sales of nondiscretionary items were mixed last month. Food & beverage store sales rose 0.2% (2.0% y/y) after a 1.5% strengthening. Health & personal care product store sales eased 0.2% (+3.6% y/y) following a 0.6% increase.

Restaurant & drinking establishment sales  increased 0.2% (5.7% y/y) after a 1.0% rise.

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

Retail Spending (% chg) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total Retail Sales & Food Services -0.2 1.7 -0.3 3.1 4.9 4.7 2.9
  Excluding Autos 0.1 1.3 -0.3 3.3 5.5 4.7 2.5
Retail Sales -0.2 1.8 -0.4 2.8 4.7 5.0 2.5
  Motor Vehicle & Parts -1.1 3.2 -0.2 2.2 2.7 4.9 4.3
 Retail Less Autos 0.0 1.3 -0.4 2.9 5.4 5.0 2.0
  Gasoline Stations 1.8 3.3 3.6 4.9 12.9 9.4 -5.8
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales 0.2 1.0 0.4 5.7 6.1 3.1 5.2
close
large image