Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| Sep 14 2023

U.S. Retail Sales Rise in August, Led by Gasoline Sales

  • Sales of core goods increase minimally.
  • Online buying is little changed.
  • Gasoline sales rise sharply with higher prices.

Retail sales increased 0.6% (2.5% y/y) during August following a 0.5% July gain, revised from 0.7%. June’s increase was revised to 0.2% from 0.3%. A 0.2% August increase had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Sales excluding motor vehicles & parts improved 0.6% last month (2.0% y/y) after increasing 0.7% in July, revised from 1.0%. The 0.1% June increase was revised from 0.2%. A 0.4% August rise had been expected.

Sales in the retail group, which excludes autos, building materials, gasoline & restaurants, rose a minimal 0.1% last month (3.6% y/y) after increasing 0.7% in July, revised from 1.0%. June’s increase was revised to 0.3% from 0.5%.

Last month’s overall sales increase was led by a 5.2% surge (-10.3% y/y) in gasoline service station sales. The gain, due to higher prices, followed a 0.1% July uptick. Clothing store sales rose 0.9% (1.3% y/y) for the second straight month. Electronic & appliance store sales improved 0.7% (-1.8% y/y) after falling 1.1% in July. General merchandise store sales rose 0.3% (2.0% y/y) after rising 0.8%. Within that category, department store sales improved 0.3% (-3.4% y/y) after a 1.2% surge. Motor vehicle sales rose 0.3% (4.4% y/y) after falling 0.4% in July. The latest gain compares to a 4.6% decline in unit vehicle sales. Sales of building materials & garden equipment improved 0.1% last month (-4.9% y/y) after a 0.2% gain.

Working lower, sporting goods, hobby shop, book & music store sales dropped 1.6% last month (-1.4% y/y) and reversed July’s 1.7% increase. Furniture & home furnishing store sales fell 1.0% last month (-7.8% y/y) after declining 1.9% in July. Online sales eased slightly (+7.2% y/y) after strengthening 1.5% in July.

In the nondiscretionary sales categories, food & beverage store sales gained 0.4% last month (2.1% y/y) after rising 0.7% in July. Health & personal care store sales rose 0.5% (7.8% y/y) last month after edging 0.1% higher in July.

Consumer spending at restaurants & drinking places improved 0.3% last month (8.5% y/y) after rising 0.8% in July.

Retail Sales data can be found in Haver's USECON database. The expectations figures are from the Action Economics Forecast Survey in AS1REPNA.

  • Prior to joining Haver Analytics in 2000, Mr. Moeller worked as the Economist at Chancellor Capital Management from 1985 to 1999. There, he developed comprehensive economic forecasts and interpreted economic data for equity and fixed income portfolio managers. Also at Chancellor, Mr. Moeller worked as an equity analyst and was responsible for researching and rating companies in the economically sensitive automobile and housing industries for investment in Chancellor’s equity portfolio.   Prior to joining Chancellor, Mr. Moeller was an Economist at Citibank from 1979 to 1984.   He also analyzed pricing behavior in the metals industry for the Council on Wage and Price Stability in Washington, D.C.   In 1999, Mr. Moeller received the award for most accurate forecast from the Forecasters' Club of New York. From 1990 to 1992 he was President of the New York Association for Business Economists.   Mr. Moeller earned an M.B.A. in Finance from Fordham University, where he graduated in 1987. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from George Washington University.

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