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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Gain
by Tom Moeller November 12, 2004

US retail sales rose an expected 0.2% (7.6% y/y) last month, the gain held back by lower auto sales. September sales were revised up slightly. During the last twenty years there has been a 60% correlation between the y/y change in retail sales and the change in payroll employment.

Motor vehicle & parts dealers sales fell 2.2% after a 4.3% jump in September as unit sales of light vehicles fell 3.1% m/m.

Sales excluding motor vehicles surged 0.9%, nearly double the Consensus expectation, following an upwardly revised 0.8% jump in September.

Discretionary spending was led by a 3.0% (6.7% y/y) surge in clothing & accessory store sales on top of a 1.0% September increase.Sales at general merchandise stores added 0.9% (7.4% y/y) to the 1.3% September spike but sales of furniture/home furnishings & electronics/appliances rose just 0.1% (4.1% y/y) which left sales down slightly over the last three months.

Sales at gasoline service stations surged 4.3% (23.8% y/y) as the retail price of gasoline rose 6.9% m/m to $2.00/gallon. Nonauto retail sales less gasoline rose 0.5% (6.9% y/y).

Building materials, garden equipment & supply dealers' sales slid 1.1% (9.5% y/y) following a like gain in September.

  Oct Sept Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Retail Sales & Food Services 0.2% 1.6% 7.6% 5.4% 2.5% 3.1%
  Excluding Autos 0.9% 0.8% 8.5% 5.2% 3.2% 3.1%
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