Recent Updates

  • US: Advance Durable Goods (Aug)
  • Italy: Business & Consumer Surveys (Sep), Contractual Wages (Aug), Large Firms Employment, Earnings & Hours Worked (Jul)
  • Luxembourg: International Trade (Jul)
  • Poland: Inflation Target (2021)
  • more updates...

Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Gain Decelerates in August
by Tom Moeller  September 16, 2020

• Growth in consumer spending was below expectations last month.

• Slower growth was widespread.

The consumer pulled back on visits to retail outlets last month, despite limited openings of some stores after shutdowns due to COVID-19. Total retail sales, including food service & drinking establishments, increased 0.6% (2.6% y/y) during August following a 0.9% July rise, revised from 1.2%. A 1.0% gain had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Retail sales excluding motor vehicles & parts improved 0.7% last month after increasing 1.3% in July, revised from 1.9%. A 1.0% rise had been anticipated. In the retail control group, which excludes autos, gas stations, building materials & food services, sales eased 0.1% (7.2% y/y) after improving 0.9% in July and 6.1% in June. Retail sales excluding restaurants edged 0.1% higher last month (5.1% y/y) after improving 0.5% in July.

Sales of motor vehicle & parts dealerships rose 0.2% in August, in contrast to a 4.5% m/m rise in unit sales reported earlier this month. It followed a 1.0% July decline which came after a 9.0% June rise. Gasoline & service station sales improved 0.4% (-15.4% y/y), even though prices rose 2.0% m/m. Building materials & garden store sales rose 2.0% (15.4% y/y) after falling 2.4% in July.

Sales of nonstore retailers held steady (22.4% y/y) after rising 0.3%. General merchandise stores sales eased 0.4% (+0.8% y/y) after a 1.1% decline in July. Department store sales declined 2.3% (-16.9% y/y) and reversed July's increase. Apparel & accessory store sales strengthened 2.9% in August (-20.4% y/y) after rising 2.2% in July and surging 99.7% in June. Furniture & home furnishing store sales improved 2.1% (3.8% y/y) following a 0.9% rise and a 39.0% jump in June. Electronics & appliance store sales rose 0.8% (-2.4% y/y) after a 20.7% gain. It was the fourth straight month of improvement. Sporting goods, hobby, book & music store sales fell 5.7% (+11.1% y/y) after a 5.3% decline.

Grocery & beverage store sales fell 1.2% last month (+10.0% y/y) after rising 0.6% in July. In another nondiscretionary category, health & personal care products sales rose 0.8% (5.6% y/y) after three months of strong increase.

Eating out remained relatively strong as restaurant and drinking establishment sales rose 4.7% last month (-15.4% y/y) after improving for three straight months.

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

Retail Spending (% chg) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.6 0.9 8.6 2.6 3.5 4.4 4.7
  Excluding Autos 0.7 1.3 8.4 2.1 3.5 5.2 5.0
Retail Sales 0.1 0.5 6.9 5.1 3.4 4.2 4.6
 Retail Less Autos 0.1 1.0 6.3 5.3 3.3 5.1 4.9
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 0.2 -1.0 9.0 4.5 3.8 1.4 3.4
  Food & Beverage Stores -1.2 0.6 -1.6 10.0 2.5 2.9 4.1
  Gasoline Service Stations 0.4 4.4 15.0 -15.4 -0.6 9.3 9.4
Food Service & Drinking Places 4.7 4.1 27.2 -15.4 4.6 5.8 5.7
close
large image