Commerce Dept: July Sales Flatten Unexpectedly

julysalesWashington—Just when U.S. retail seems to be sauntering along, suddenly it hits a bump…or rather a flat place in the road.

In its month retail sales report, The U. S. Department of Commerce reported Wednesday that retail sales, which had increased 0.2% in June, were held back by a second straight month of declines in receipts at auto dealers, as well as weak sales of furniture and electronics and appliances.

That made for the weakest sales since January. Economists had forecast retail sales, which account for a third of consumer spending, increasing 0.2% last month.

So-called core sales, excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, and which correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product, edged up 0.1% in July. That suggested a moderation in consumer spending early in the third quarter, economist said.

Core sales rose by a revised 0.5% in June. They were previously reported to have increased 0.6% and economists had expected them to advance 0.4% in July.

The weak retail sales report could spell a third quarter were growth is stymied compared to the April to June quarter’s more impressive 4.0% annualized rate.

While sales at auto dealers and even non-store retailers (online) slipped, sales at clothing and accessories retails edged up 0.4% while receipts at sporting goods shops gained 0.2 percent.

Sales at electronics and appliances stores fell 0.1%, while receipts at building materials and garden equipment suppliers rose 0.2%.

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