Retail Sales Drop 0.2 Percent in August Led By Sluggish Auto Sales

Ivan Schwartz
September 16, 2017

Retail sales dropped 0.2 percent last month after a 0.3 percent gain in July, the Commerce Department said Friday. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

August sales at department stores fell 0.1% from July and 0.8% from last year; electronics and appliance sales fell 0.7% from July and 3.5% year over year; and clothing and accessories sales fell 1% from July and rose 0.6% from last year. "The bottom line is that consumer spending is uneven but remains resilient and the key contributor to US economic growth".

Analysts said the weaker-than-expected August sales were weighed down in part by the initial disruptions from Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf Coast. Total sales for the three-month period between June and August rose 3.2% compared with past year. "Quarterly retail revenue growth has averaged just 3.2% over the past three years, down from 3.8% during the 2009-2013 period and off sharply from the robust 8.7% growth racked up from 2000-2008". Month over month, however, nonstore retail sales fell 1.1%. They nudged up at home furnishings stores and grocery stores.

Building materials and supplies stores decreased 0.5 percent from July but increased 8.2 percent unadjusted 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.

Excluding autos, an often volatile category, ? sales were up 0.2% last month; economists had expected a 0.5% gain.

Still, thanks to a still-solid job market, economists generally remain upbeat about retail sales in coming months, with many saying they expect consumer spending to grow at a solid 2.5 percent rate in the July-September quarter. Please visit the POS software pages and POS hardware pages (see left side menu above) to find great POS products from various vendors.

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