Retail sales in June swoon

Washington -- U.S. retail sales fell by 0.9% in June, the single biggest drop in almost two years, the Commerce Department reported.


Taking some of the sting out of the number, much of the damage was done by weak auto sales, which sank by 2.9%. And lower gas prices, actually good news for consumers, fell by 1.1%, putting further downward pressure on total retail sales.


Excluding the drop in car sales, retail sales slipped a more moderate 0.4%, but even that decline was greater than the 0.2% dip that analysts had expected. And the weakness at retail was broad-based, with seven out of 12 channels of distribution recording declines.


Home related channels were among the hardest hit during the month, with furniture and home furnishings stores the single biggest loser, declining by a big 3.0% and erasing a modest 0.3% gain the prior month.


Sales in furniture and home furnishings stores were down by 1.8% from year-ago June levels. Another home channel, building material and garden supply dealers, dropped off a steep 2.3%, while sales in electronics and appliance stores fell by 1.4%.

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