July 2015 Retail Sales

Consumers opened their wallets a little wider in July 2015 according to the Retail Sales report from the Census Bureau.  Versus a month earlier, this indicator increased 0.6 percent; these sales are 0.7 percent higher compared to a year ago.  Not only was July  strong, but June’s tally was revised upward to unchanged after the initial report of a 0.3 percent decline.

Auto sales led the indicator higher, but there was also strength in other areas of the economy.  Motor vehicle and parts dealers took in 1.4 percent more revenue in July which nearly offsets June’s entire 1.5 percent decline; you might recall that auto sales were up 5.9 percent in May, so July’s tally is still relatively strong.  Furniture sale were up 0.8 percent, and home & garden supplies rose 0.7 percent.  Nonstore retailers were up 1.5 percent.  Atlas’ favorite category, food services & drinking places, climbed 0.7 percent in July and have jumped 9.0 percent since the same period last year.  This gets extra attention because this type of spending is discretionary and can be substituted easily; for now, Americans seem content eating away from home.

May’s retail spending worried Atlas because of its decline, but it appears the contraction was really a deceleration, and now we know that was short-lived.  America thrives on consumption, so this indicator provides an important glimpse into the condition of our economy.  For now, output appears to have clean bill of health.      (by C. Cox)