Auto sales drive retail performance for June

Driven by a 3.4 percent surge in auto sales, which recovered from a slump the month before, retail sales advanced at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.1 percent, the Commerce Department reported.

But excluding the big spike in auto sales, the gains in most retail formats were more muted, and only clothing and accessories retailers, finally getting a break from sales of seasonal apparel, were able to eke out an annualized gain of any substance. Sales for apparel retailers climbed higher at an annual rate of 2.0 percent, but it was still not enough to recover from a 2.1 percent slide recorded in May.

Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores were virtually flat, declining only slightly during June, but consumers were still lining up to buy electronics and appliances, and sales in those outlets rose at an annual rate of 0.8 percent.

Despite more moderate weather across the country, consumers shied away from do-it-yourself and spring cleaning, and sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers edged up a modest 0.2 percent, rallying after a small decline in May.

Whether it was the weather or vacations, consumers were eating out more and apparently cooking less in June. Sales at restaurants and bars advanced by 0.5 percent, but grocery stores saw their receipts slide by 0.4 percent. Sales at food and beverage stores were also off by 0.3 percent.

The biggest decline was in non-store retailing, where sales were off by 0.8 percent.

Retail sales in June (by channel)

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce
Car dealers +3.4%
Clothing & apparel stores +2.0
Electronics & appliance stores +0.8
Department stores, chains & discounters +0.7
Restaurants & bars +0.5
Building materials & garden supplies +0.2
Non-store retailers -0.8
Grocery stores -0.4
Food & beverage stores -0.3
Gas stations -0.1
Furniture & home furnishings -0.0

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