August Retail Sales

The Commerce Department reported headline retail sales grew by 0.4% in August.  This was after a slight downward revision in July’s figure to 0.3% growth from 0.4%.  This is the second consecutive month the important retail sales figure has grown and year-over-year it is now up 3.6%.
All thirteen components of the survey are up in the last twelve months, and eight out of the thirteen were up in August.  Some of the monthly stand outs were the food and beverage stores.  The warm summer may have impacted the amount of fluids our nation was consuming.  The beer, wine and liquor store sales have not been counted yet, so the composition of the fluids will not be known until next month.  Also standing out this month is the clothing and clothing accessories stores.  This is of little surprise since many students went back to school at the end of August and beginning of September.  In fact, after to the post Thanksgiving holiday shopping season, the back-to-school shopping season is the clothing retailers’ busiest time of year.  Gasoline stations also enjoyed a seasonal boost in consumption as the final days of the vacation period closed.
The status on retail sales gives us a glimpse of where the economy is today and because of its representation in the consumption part of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it is worth paying attention to.  It currently says that we have grown from where we were a year ago but the comparisons will get tougher every month from now until the end of the year.  We hate to bring it up too soon, but how do your holiday spending plans compare to last year’s?  The country needs your help.