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Warm weather reveals signs of life in June

Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, July 21, 2003

Raising hopes that consumers may finally be loosening their grip on their wallets, and ending a long retail drought, retail sales perked up by 0.5 percent in June, their strongest gain since March, the U.S. Commerce Department reported.

The June rally was a big improvement over May sales, which were unchanged from March.

In even more encouraging news, once highly volatile automobile sales, with their potentially large skewing factor, are pulled out of the equation, sales for other retail categories grew at an even faster pace, jumping up by 0.7 percent. Auto sales declined by 0.1 percent during the month, the agency reported.

Underlining the broad-based strength of the June sales figures, among major channels of distribution tracked by HTT, gainers outnumbered laggards by a 3-to-1 ratio, with 9 out of 12 formats posting gains, including furniture and home furnishings stores, where sales increased by 0.5 percent, up over an even larger gain of 1.2 percent in May.

And with warm summer weather finally here, another home-related category, building materials and garden supplies, recorded one of the month's biggest gains, 2.6 percent.

Sporting goods, hobby, books and music retailers posted a 3.0 percent increase, the largest gain in that channel since February 2001.

Only one home-goods channel — electronics and appliances — turned up on the list of decliners, with a modest dip of 0.1 percent.

RETAIL SALES IN JUNE (by channel)

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce
WINNERS
Sporting goods, hobby, books & music +3.0%
Building materials & garden supplies +2.6
Clothing & accessories +1.3
Gas stations +1.3
Health & personal care +0.8
Grocery stores +0.7
Furniture & home furnishings +0.5
Department stores +0.2
Non-store retailers +0.2
LOSERS
Restaurants & bars -0.2
Car dealers -0.1
Electronics & appliances -0.1


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