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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Spending Posts Firm Increase
by Tom Moeller  July 15, 2016

Total retail sales & spending at restaurants increased 0.6% during June (2.7% y/y) following a 0.2% May gain, revised from 0.5%. The rise compared to expectations for 0.1% growth in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Healthy increases in sales were broad-based. Overall retail sales excluding autos gained 0.7% (3.2% y/y). A 0.4% rise had been expected. Sales in the retail control group, which also excludes gasoline, building supplies and food services, rose a steady 0.5% (4.1% y/y). This figure is used in the computation of the GDP.

Retail sales increased 0.7% (2.4% y/y) following a 0.2% rise. The gain was lifted by a 1.2% rise in gasoline service station sales with higher prices. Motor vehicle & parts sales improved 0.1% (1.0% y/y) after a 0.5% decline. That compares to a 4.5% decline in unit vehicle sales. Retail sales excluding motor vehicles jumped 0.9% (2.9% y/y) after a 0.4% increase.

Building material & garden equipment sales surged 3.9% (7.6% y/y) and made up declines during the prior three months. Sales at nonstore retailers firmed 1.1% (14.2% y/y), the fifth month this year of outsized increases. Sporting goods store sales increased 0.8% (6.8% y/y) after a 1.3% jump. Sales at furniture & home furnishing stores increased 0.5% (2.7% y/y) following a 0.1% easing. General merchandise store sales improved 0.4% (-0.2% y/y) and made up the prior month's fall. On the weak side, clothing store sales declined 1.0% (-0.9% y/y) and reversed the May increase. Restaurant sales eased 0.3% (+4.9% y/y) after a 0.5% gain. Electronics & appliance store sales remained unchanged (-4.7% y/y) following a 0.4% gain.

In the non-discretionary spending categories, health & personal store sales improved 0.7% (8.4% y/y) following a 0.6% rise while food & beverage store sales gained 0.5% (2.7% y/y) after a 0.4% rise.

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

Retail Spending (%) Jun May Apr Jun Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 0.6 0.2 1.2 2.7 2.3 4.1 3.8
  Excluding Autos 0.7 0.4 0.9 3.2 1.2 3.6 2.7
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline, Building Supplies & Food Services (Control Group) 0.5 0.5 1.1 4.1 3.3 4.0 2.9
Retail Sales 0.7 0.2 1.4 2.4 1.6 3.9 3.8
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 0.1 -0.5 2.6 1.0 6.5 6.4 8.3
 Retail Less Autos 0.9 0.4 1.0 2.9 0.2 3.2 2.6
  Gasoline Stations 1.2 2.2 2.7 -9.6 -19.4 -2.4 -1.2
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales -0.3 0.5 0.2 4.9 8.0 6.1 3.7
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