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Retail Sales: Rebound Mostly As Expected

October 13, 2017
Bottom Line: Total retail spending rebounded in September, mostly in-line with expectations, despite the potential for volatility from multiple hurricanes. Core retail sales increased and were led by gains and positive revisions in clothing, building materials and nonstore retailers. Both overall and core retail sales are increasing moderately on a year over year basis. The Q3 average for core sales ex gasoline stations and ex building materials is modestly above its Q2 level, suggesting that real consumer spending will still add to Q3 GDP but decelerated from its 3.3% Q2 pace.

Retail Sales ROSE by 1.6% in September, compared with the market consensus for an increase of 1.7%. The August estimate was revised from -0.21% to -0.06%. Retail sales are now 4.4% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 3.1%. Spending at motor vehicle dealers climbed by 3.6%.

Core Retail Sales ROSE by 1.0%, compared with the market consensus for an increase 0.9%. The August estimate was revised from 0.20% to 0.48%. Core retail sales are now 4.6% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 3.0%.

  • In September, gains at gasoline stations, primarily due to high gasoline prices (+5.8%),
  • building materials (+2.1%),
  • grocery stores (+0.8%),
  • nonstore retailers (+0.5%).
  • These were partially offset by declines in health and personal care (-0.4%),
  • electronic and appliance stores (-1.1%),
  • miscellaneous retailers (-0.6%), and,
  • furniture & home furnishing (-0.4%).

Core Retail Sales ex Gasoline ROSE by 0.53% and are now 3.8% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was a moderate 3.5%