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Economy in Brief

U.S. Business Inventories & Sales Increase
by Tom Moeller  September 13, 2019

Total business inventories rose 0.4% (4.8% y/y) in July versus an unrevised zero change in June and a 0.3% May increase. Total business sales edged up 0.3% (1.3% y/y) after holding steady in June, revised from 0.1% . The inventory-to-sales (I/S) ratio held steady at 1.40.

Retail inventories rebounded 0.8% (4.6% y/y) in July after a 0.2% decline. Auto inventories surged 1.5% (7.7% y/y) while nonauto inventories rose 0.3% (2.9% y/y). Inventories of furniture and home furnishings eased 0.2% (+0.1% y/y) after two months of decline. Clothing inventories rose 0.4% (0.8% y/y), reversing June's decline. General merchandise store inventories rose 0.4% (0.1% y/y) after two months of decline. Wholesale inventories increased 0.2 % (7.1% y/y) in July while manufacturing inventories rose 0.2% (3.0% y/y).

Retail sales increased 0.8% (3.6% y/y) in July after a 0.3% rise. Sales excluding autos strengthened 1.0% (3.7% y/y). Wholesale sector sales rose 0.3% (0.0% y/y) and reversed June's decline, while shipments from the factory sector edged 0.2% lower (+0.5% y/y).

The inventory-to-sales ratio in the retail sector held at 1.45. The non-auto I/S ratio eased to 1.18 and equaled its all-time low reached in November 2018. The wholesale I/S ratio was unchanged at 1.36 in July while the manufacturing I/S/ ratio held at 1.38.

The manufacturing and trade data are in Haver's USECON database.

Manufacturing & Trade July June May July Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Business Inventories (% chg) 0.4 -0.0 0.3 4.8 4.9 3.4 1.7
  Retail 0.8 -0.2 0.3 4.6 4.2 2.4 4.0
    Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 0.3 -0.1 0.2 2.9 1.7 2.0 2.0
  Merchant Wholesalers 0.2 -0.1 0.4 7.1 7.1 3.3 1.9
  Manufacturing 0.2 0.1 0.2 3.0 3.5 4.5 -0.7
Business Sales (% chg)
Total 0.3 0.0 -0.1 1.3 6.1 5.4 -0.8
  Retail 0.8 0.3 0.4 3.6 4.6 4.5 2.4
    Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 1.0 0.2 0.4 3.7 5.3 4.8 1.9
  Merchant Wholesalers 0.3 -0.3 -0.6 0.0 6.5 6.7 -1.3
  Manufacturing -0.2 0.1 0.1 0.5 6.9 5.0 -3.2
I/S Ratio
Total 1.40 1.40 1.40 1.35 1.36 1.38 1.42
  Retail 1.45 1.45 1.46 1.44 1.45 1.47 1.49
    Retail excl. Motor Vehicles 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.19 1.20 1.24 1.28
  Merchant Wholesalers 1.36 1.36 1.36 1.27 1.29 1.30 1.35
  Manufacturing 1.38 1.38 1.38 1.35 1.35 1.37 1.41
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