Thursday, August 13, 2009

Retail sales unexpectedly dip 0.1 percent in July

The U.S. Commerce Department made an unwelcome announcement today stating that despite the prediction of an increase, retail sales in the U.S. actually dropped by 0.1% last month. This number would have been much worse if it were not for auto sales, which actually rose by 2.4% due to the Cash for Clunkers program. Check out the following story on this unexpected revelation courtesy of the Associated Press.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail sales fell 0.1 percent last month. Economists had expected a gain of 0.7 percent.

While autos, helped by the start of the Cash for Clunkers program, showed a 2.4 percent jump -- the biggest in six months -- there was widespread weakness elsewhere. Gasoline stations, department stores, electronics outlets and furniture stores all reported declines.

The July dip was the first setback following two months of modest sales gains. Excluding autos, sales fell 0.6 percent, worse than the 0.1 percent rise economists had forecast.

Gas station sales plunged 2.1 percent, due more to falling pump prices than weak demand. Excluding the drop at gas stations, retail sales would have posted a modest 0.1 percent increase.

Department store sales fell 1.6 percent and the broader category of general merchandise stores, which includes big chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp., posted a decline of 0.8 percent.

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