Thursday, June 13, 2013

Quick View: Retail Sales Strong in May

Retail sales in the U.S. posted better than expected gains in May as auto purchases soared, and an improving housing market continues to bolster home improvement spending.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that Advance Estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services sales for May increased 0.6% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $421.1 billion, while sales rose 4.3% compared to the year-ago period. Year-over-year, this was the 43rd straight monthly rise and the strongest gain since January.

Total sales excluding autos were up 3.4% compared to last May and rose 0.3% from the prior month, while total sales less autos and gas stations showed a 4.2% year-on-year increase, as moderating prices at the pump helped boost discretionary spending power.

8 of 13 sectors posted growth over the prior month, led by Motor Vehicle & Parts Dealers (+1.8% MoM / +8.5% YoY), Building Material and Garden Equipment & Supplies Dealers (+0.9% MoM / +10.1% YoY), Miscellaneous Store Retailers (+1.2% MoM / +8.1% YoY) and Non-Store Retailers (+0.7% MoM / +11.3% YoY).

However, weakness was still apparent in discretionary categories, such as Electronics & Appliance Stores (-0.4% MoM / -0.5% YoY), Furniture & Home Furnishings Stores (-0.8% MoM / -0.5% YoY), General Merchandise Stores (-1.2% MoM / -4.9% YoY), Clothing & Accessories Stores (-0.2% MoM / +3.8% YoY) and most especially at Department Stores (-0.2% MoM / -3.9% YoY), which have posted 9 consecutive months of year-over-year declines and haven't posted an annual sales gain since 2004.

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