June sales record 1.1 percent decline

Don Hogsett, July 19, 2004

Depressed by a slide in auto sales, and with higher prices at the pump siphoning off consumer dollars, retail sales in June tumbled 1.1 percent. The loss represented the deepest one-month drop since February 2003, the Commerce Department reported.

The June drop wipes out almost all of the upwardly revised increase of 1.4 percent recorded in May.

Doing the most damage last month was the precipitous drop of almost 5 percent at the nation's car dealers, more than wiping out a 3.2 percent increase the month before, the agency reported.

Putting further downward pressure on June sales was a 0.9 percent decline at gas stations, reflecting lower prices at the pump.

Rising gas prices over the past few months have put an overall dent in consumer spending, which is starting to take its toll on broad swath of American retailing.

Among the big decliners for the month of June were department stores, down 0.8 percent; and restaurants and bars, down 0.8 percent. Sales at clothing stores and apparel stores dropped 0.5 percent, with sales of seasonal summer-wear hampered by cool, damp weather across much of the country.

Home-related channels were stand-out performers during the month, and the single-strongest channel of distribution was furniture and home furnishings stores, where sales improved 1.1 percent.

Retail sales in June (by channel)

Furniture & home furnishings stores +1.1%
Non-store retailers +0.7
Sporting goods, hobby, books & music stores +0.6
Electronics & appliance stores +0.5
Health & personal care stores +0.2
Building material & garden supply stores +0.1
Car dealers -4.7%
Gas stations -0.9
Department stores -0.8
Restaurants & bars -0.8
Clothing & accessories stores -0.5
Grocery stores 0.0
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

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