US Retail Sales Dip Unexpectedly Amid Steep Drop In Auto Sales

Gladys Abbott
September 16, 2017

The figures exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants. Retail sales increased a revised 0.3% in July, down from an originally reported 0.6% increase.

There will be a significant short-term distortion to retail spending due to disruption from hurricanes Harvey and Irma and there was an impact in the August data, although there could be positive and negative influences on the data. On a year-over-year basis August sales showed some strength, increasing 3.7 percent unadjusted.

Retail trade sales decreased 0.3% from July but up 3.3% from past year.

Year-over-year growth was up 3.4 percent on a three-month moving average. Sales at nonstore retailers fell 1.1% following July's 1.8% gain.

Clothing sales declined 1.0% on the month and there was also a decline in building material sales. Grocery store sale were up 0.3% month over month and up 1.9% year over year.

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Health and personal care stores increased 0.1 percent over July and increased 0.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Gordon Haskett analyst Chuck Grom noted that the overall monthly retail sales decline of 0.2% (which includes non-core retail like auto sales), missed Gordon Haskett's estimate of a 0.2% rise.

"With consumer confidence close to record highs and the labour market continuing to improve ... we doubt this is the start of a more sustained downturn and expect retail spending to bounce back over the coming months", said Andrew Hunter, U.S. economist at Capital Economics. Retail is the nation's largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S.jobs - 42 million working Americans.

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