Retail spending rebounded strongly, up 1.6 percent in September after edging down by 0.1 percent in August. The decline in August and the corresponding uptick in September were both influenced by recent hurricanes, and in the latest figures, this can be seen in robust spending growth at motor vehicle and parts dealers (up 3.6 percent) and building material and garden supply (up 2.1 percent) stores as Americans in the affected areas replaced and repaired their damaged homes and automobiles in mass. In addition, gasoline prices have moved higher, pushing retail sales at gasoline stations up 5.8 percent in September. Illustrating this point, the Energy Information Administration reports that the average price of regular gasoline rose from $2.399 per gallon on the week of August 28 to $2.583 on September 25.
In general, consumer spending remains a bright spot in the economy, with Americans more willing to open their pocketbooks this year than last, especially than in the beginning months of 2016. Over the past 12 months, spending has risen by 4.4 percent, up from 3.5 percent in the prior release. This has drifted higher over the past three months, up from 3.0 percent in June. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales increased 4.6 percent year-over-year in September, up from 2.4 percent in June and 4.1 percent in August. Read More
Retail spending was down 0.2 percent in August, according to the Census Bureau, and it is likely that Hurricane Harvey might have negatively impacted those figures. Weather aside, retail sales have continued to increase modestly overall, helping to provide a boost to the U.S. economy. Along those lines, Americans had been more willing to open their pocketbooks more this year than last, especially than in the beginning months of 2016. Over the past 12 months, spending has risen by 3.2 percent. Still, there has been a bit more caution on the part of the American consumer in the past few months than we might have expected. The year-over-year rate has drifted lower since peaking at 5.6 percent in January, for instance. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales increased 3.6 percent year-over-year in August, up from 2.4 percent in June but down from 5.4 percent in January. Read More
The U.S. consumer appears to be more cautious than we would expect, with disappointing retail sales figures once again in June, falling for the second straight month, according to the Census Bureau. Spending at retailers were off by 0.2 percent in June, extending the 0.1 percent declines seen in May and below consensus estimates for a slight gain. (On the positive side, the May number was revised higher, as it was originally down by 0.3 percent.) Americans had been more willing to open their pocketbooks, especially relative to the caution seen at the beginning of 2016. This culminated in 5.6 percent year-over-year growth in January, its fastest pace since March 2012, but the year-over-year rate has eased since then. Since June 2016, retail spending has increased by a more modest 2.8 percent. Excluding autos, the year-over-year pace was 2.4 percent. Read More
The U.S. consumer appears to be more cautious than we would expect, with disappointing retail sales figures in May, according to the Census Bureau. Spending at retailers fell 0.3 percent in May, nearly reversing the 0.4 percent gain in April and well below consensus estimates. Americans had been more willing to open their pocketbooks, especially relative to the caution seen at the beginning of 2016. This culminated in 5.6 percent year-over-year growth in January, its fastest pace since March 2012, but the year-over-year rate has eased since then. Since May 2016, retail spending has increased 3.8 percent. To be fair, sales continue to rise modestly, and year-over-year growth has trended mostly higher, up from 2.3 percent at this point last year.
Looking at the May report, the data were mixed but mostly lower. Retail segments with the largest declines in monthly sales included electronics and appliance stores (down 2.8 percent), gasoline stations (down 2.4 percent), miscellaneous store retailers (down 1.3 percent), department stores (down 1.0 percent) and sporting goods and hobby stores (down 0.6 percent), among others. While nonstore retailers (up 0.8 percent), furniture and home furnishings stores (up 0.4 percent), clothing and accessory stores (up 0.3 percent) and food and beverage stores (up 0.1 percent) saw increases in May, each experienced reduced sales compared to April. It is worth noting the contrast between nonstore retailers and department stores in this report, as retailers continue to grapple with the structural shifts taking place between online and brick-and-mortar spending habits.
The Census Bureau said that retail sales picked up in April after slowing in February and March. Spending in the retail sector increased 0.4 percent in April, and sales in March were revised higher, up 0.1 percent instead of falling by 0.2 percent in the original estimate. After falling for three consecutive months, motor vehicle and parts sales rebounded in April, up 0.7 percent. Excluding autos, retail sales increased by 0.3 percent for the month. In general, Americans have been more willing to open his/her pocketbook this year than at this time last year; yet, consumers have been more cautious through the first four months of 2017 than we might prefer. Along those lines, retail spending has risen 4.5 percent over the past 12 months. While that represents relatively strong growth in consumer sales year-over-year, it has edged lower since measuring 5.9 percent in January. For comparison purposes, the year-over-year rate for retail sales was 2.8 percent in April 2016. Read More
The Census Bureau said that retail sales edged slightly lower in March for the second straight month, down 0.2 percent. Softer automotive sales help to explain at least part of this weakness, with spending at motor vehicle and parts dealers down 1.2 percent for the month. Excluding autos, retail sales were unchanged in March. Despite the reduced headline number in the latest release, the data continue to reflect an American consumer that has been more willing to open to open his/her pocketbook, especially when compared to this time last year. Along those lines, retail spending has risen 5.2 percent over the past 12 months, with the year-over-year rate down from January’s 5.9 percent pace but well above the more-hesitant rate of 1.7 percent seen in March 2016. Excluding motor vehicles and parts sales, the year-over-year rate was 5.0 percent. Read More
The Census Bureau said that retail sales rose 0.1 percent in February, extending the upwardly revised 0.6 percent gain seen in January. (The prior month’s increase was originally reported to be 0.4 percent.) More importantly, it was the sixth consecutive monthly increase in retail spending, illustrating once again that Americans have been willing to open their pocketbooks after being more cautious with their purchases at this time last year. Indeed, over the past 12 months, retail sales have jumped 5.7 percent, off just slightly from January’s 6.0 percent year-over-year pace, which was the highest since March 2012. To put that figure in perspective, in February 2016, year-over-year growth was 3.5 percent, or 2.5 percent if motor vehicle sales were excluded. Read More
The Census Bureau said that retail sales rose 0.4 percent in January, extending the 1.0 percent gain seen in December. It was the fifth consecutive monthly increase in retail spending, illustrating once again that Americans have been willing to open their pocketbooks after being more cautious with their purchases at this time last year. Indeed, over the past 12 months, retail sales have jumped 5.6 percent, a healthy rebound from a year-over-year pace of just 2.2 percent in August. Motor vehicles and parts sales have been a relative bright spot of late, but the January data were held back somewhat by a 1.4 percent decline in auto sales. To be fair, this drop was likely a response to a larger-than-normal jump in December in motor vehicle purchases, up 3.2 percent. Excluding automobiles, retail sales rose 0.8 percent in January, with year-over-year growth of 5.3 percent. Read More
The Census Bureau said that retail sales accelerated in December, finishing 2016 on a strong note. Spending at retailers grew 0.6 percent in December, increasing for the fourth straight month. In the fourth quarter alone, retail sales rose 1.5 percent, illustrating once again that Americans continued to increase their spending at year’s end after being rather cautious in their purchases earlier in the year. Over the past 12 months, retail sales have risen 4.1 percent. That represents a healthy rebound from the 1.7 percent pace observed in March. With that said, healthy sales gains at motor vehicle and parts dealers (up 2.4 percent) helped to boost the December headline number. Excluding automobiles, retail spending increased by a more modest 0.2 percent, with year-over-year growth of 3.4 percent. Read More