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August U.S. Retail Sales Post Biggest Montly Gain Since Jan '06

Tue, Sep 15, 10:41 PM ET, by RetailSails.com


Boosted by the government’s “cash-for-clunkers” program, retail sales rebounded in August posting its largest monthly increase since January 2006. The U.S. Census Bureau reported today that Advance Estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services sales for August increased 2.7% from the prior month to $351.4 Billion. Excluding automobiles, retail and food services sales increased 1.1% from July, the best showing since January of this year.

Monthly US Retail Sales - Total Retail & Food Services (MoM)

Auto sales enjoyed their best month in nearly 8 years, increasing 11.9% from July and just slightly down from a year ago. While there will certainly be a drop-off in September after the expiration of the clunkers program, automakers are trying to cushion the fall with heavy dose of cash rebates and creative warranties, i.e. money-back guarantees for car buyers who lose their jobs. This sounds like business as usual for the struggling car-makers – sacrificing profits and margins to drive short-term sales.

Monthly US Retail Sales - Auto & Other Motor Vehicles MoM & YoY

While the monthly gains were impressive, sales are still down 5.3% from the year ago period (-6.2% ex autos). Those YoY figures will start to improve dramatically heading into the end of this year regardless of performance, as retailers will be up against comps from last fall when sales fell off a cliff:

Monthly US Retail Sales - Total Retail & Food Services (YoY) LT

Also, we suspect seasonal adjustments played a role in the monthly gains. Based on results from individual retailers who reported August sales earlier this month, it’s apparent that apparel and department store retailers continue to struggle. However, the government report shows both of those sectors posting a 2.4% increase in sales from the prior month, with substantial improvements in YoY figures. We expect there will be downward revisions when next month’s report is released.

As stock prices have risen and consumers’ future expectations of the economy have started to improve, shoppers are becoming a little less cautious about their spending. However, we won’t see a substantial pick-up in demand until the employment and income situation improves. Year-over-year figures should start to show gains starting in October, as comparisons will be up against the post-Lehman bankruptcy period last year.

Click here to see detailed results by type of business.


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This Article's Word Cloud:   August   However   January   July   While   against   automobiles   best   business   cash   clunkers   cushion   down   fall   figures   food   from   gains   government   have   improve   increase   increased   just   last   month   monthly   period   posting   prior   program   report   reported   results   retail   retailers   sales   showing   since   start   substantial   that   their   there   this   usual   when   will   with   year

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