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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Spending Moderates
by Tom Moeller  June 14, 2016

Total retail sales & spending at restaurants increased 0.5% (2.5% y/y) during May following an unrevised 1.3% April jump. The rise compared to expectations for 0.3% growth in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

The increase in motor vehicle sales cooled to a 0.5% pace (2.1% y/y) following a 3.1% jump. The rise compares to a 0.2% gain in unit auto sales which followed a 5.1% gain. Excluding autos, total retail spending increased 0.4% (2.7% y/y) after a 0.8% rise. A 0.3% increase had been expected.

Spending in the retail control group, which excludes autos, gasoline, building materials and restaurants increased 0.4% (3.5% y/y) after a 1.0% jump.

As prices rose, gasoline service station sales jumped 2.1% (-9.5% y/y) following two months of even stronger increases. Building material store sales fell 1.8% (+3.6% y/y), the fourth decline this year. Purchases at restaurants improved 0.8% (6.5% y/y) following a 0.5% increase.

Within the discretionary spending categories, sporting goods store sales jumped 1.3% (5.2% y/y), after a 0.2% dip. Sales of nonstore retailers built on earlier strength also with a 1.3% increase (12.2% y/y). Clothing & accessory store sales improved 0.8% (-0.5% y/y), the strongest gain this year. Purchases at electronics & appliance stores increased 0.3% (-3.1% y/y), after a 0.2% rise. To the downside, general merchandise store sales eased 0.3% (-0.7% y/y), their third decline this year. Furniture & home furnishings spending fell 0.1% (+0.2% y/y) following a 0.3% rise.

In the non-discretionary spending categories, health & personal care store sales increased 0.6% (8.3% y/y) following three months of stronger gain. Food & beverage store sales also increased 0.5% (2.6% y/y) after a 1.2% jump.

The retail sales figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economics figures are in the AS1REPNA database.

Retail Spending (%) May Apr Mar May Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.5 1.3 -0.3 2.5 2.3 4.1 3.8
  Excluding Autos 0.4 0.8 0.4 2.7 1.2 3.6 2.7
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline, Building Supplies & Food Services (Control Group) 0.4 1.0 0.2 3.5 3.3 4.0 2.9
Retail Sales 0.4 1.4 -0.3 2.0 1.6 3.9 3.8
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 0.5 3.1 -3.1 2.1 6.5 6.4 8.3
 Retail Less Autos 0.4 0.9 0.5 2.0 0.2 3.2 2.6
  Gasoline Stations 2.1 2.5 3.7 -9.5 -19.4 -2.4 -1.2
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales 0.8 0.3 -0.4 6.5 8.0 6.1 3.7
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