0.2% Retail Sales Growth Better Than It Looks

Retail and food services sales edged up a seasonally adjusted 0.2%, to $440 billion for June, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released Tuesday. 

May's retail growth was revised up 0.2 percentage points to 0.5% in Tuesday's report, providing a partial explanation for June's sales not living up to expectations. Analysts had predicted a strong 0.6% boost for this latest report.

Top-line numbers look much better when accounting for more volatile automobile and gasoline sales. Auto sales fell 0.3% for June, putting retail sales, less motor vehicles, at 0.4% growth compared to analysts' 0.6% expectations. When excluding gasoline's 0.3% month-over-month gain, as well, retail sales growth still clocked in at 0.4%, but expectations came in 0.1 percentage points higher at 0.5%.


Outside of these two sectors, general merchandise stores led sales growth with a 1.1% increase, while hardware and garden stores lagged with a 1% drop.

Over the last year, retail sales have expanded 4.3%, with non-store retailers taking growth gold at 8.1%. The combined category of sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores recorded the only year-over-year decline, with sales dipping 2% since June 2013. 

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