Home helps boost July

Don Hogsett, August 18, 2003

Climbing to their highest level since March, U.S. retail sales advanced by 1.4 percent improving further on an upwardly revised 0.9 percent increase in June.

Measured on a year-over-year basis, retail sales now stand 5.6 percent higher than the July 2002 reading.

Driving the stronger than expected gain, car sales jumped up by 3.2 percent, continuing their recent climb. Auto sales now stand 6.9 percent higher than the year-before level.

Even pulling out the highly volatile auto sales, retail sales advanced by 0.8 percent during the month, with sales improving in a strong majority of retail formats and channels.

The home remained a focal point of spending during the month, with every home-related channel making gains. Electronics & appliance stores, helped by warmer weather and air-conditioner sales, recorded a strong 1.2 percent increase, while do-it-yourselfers and gardeners pushed sales at building material and garden supply outlets up by 1.3 percent. Sales in furniture and home furnishings stores advanced by 0.5 percent, building on an even stronger gain of 1.3 percent in June. Measured on a year-over-year basis, sales in the home furnishings channel have shot up an impressive 8.7 percent since July 2002.

Sales in the broad department store channel improved by 1.0 percent during the month, but still lag behind last year's level by 2.2 percent.

Retail Sales in July (by channel)

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce
Car dealers +3.2%
Gas stations +1.6
Building material & garden supplies +1.3
Electronics & appliance stores +1.2
Dept. stores & discounters +1.0
Health & personal care stores +1.0
Food & beverage stores +0.8
Clothing & accessories stores +0.8
Grocery stores +0.7
Furniture & home furnishings stores +0.5
Sporting goods/hobby/books/music stores -1.5%
Restaurants & bars -0.9
Non-store retailers -0.8

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