Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
- Retail Sales
Retail sales were flat in August, underwhelming expectations for a slight 0.2 percent increase. Perhaps even more disappointing is that it follows a downwardly revised 0.3 percent increase in July (down from 0.5 percent). Another downward surprise was a 0.3 percent decline in auto sales during August, reversing a 0.3 percent gain in July. Excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales rose just 0.1 percent in August, and is trending at an annualized rate of just 2.2 percent over the past three months, compared to a year-over-year growth rate of 7.3 percent. Sales were mixed across broad categories, with the largest increase coming from sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (up 2.4 percent). On the other hand miscellaneous store retailers saw a 2.2 percent decline in sales, nearly offsetting a 2.4 percent increase in July. Interestingly, sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores fell 0.7 percent during the month. Given that these data are not adjusted for price changes, it could signal a decline in apparel prices in tomorrow’s CPI report (especially given the recent decline in cotton prices). “Core” retail sales (sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations) were unchanged in August, it’s worst monthly performance since December 2010. The 3-month annualized growth rate in core retail sales has fallen to 2.9 percent as of August, down from a recent high of 10.2 percent in March. Over the past year, the series is up 5.2 percent.