U.S. Retail Sales Miss Expectations, Point to Slow Growth

Views Of Rodeo Drive Ahead Of Retail Sales Figures
Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesShoppers along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif.
By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON -- U.S. retail sales rose less than expected in August even as demand increased for automobiles and other big-ticket items, the latest sign that economic growth slowed in the third quarter.

The Commerce Department said Friday retail sales increased 0.2 percent last month as Americans bought automobiles, furniture and electronics and appliances. However, they cut back on clothing, building materials and sporting goods.

Retail sales, which account for about 30 percent of consumer spending, were still up for a fifth consecutive month. They had gained 0.4 percent in July and economists polled by Reuters had expected them to rise 0.4 percent last month.

Stripping out automobiles, gasoline and building materials, so-called core sales were up 0.2 percent after rising 0.5 percent in July. Core sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

Though core sales slowed a bit from July, they matched the second quarter's 0.2 percent average monthly gain.

Despite the signs of a slowdown in demand this quarter, that will not change expectations the Federal Reserve will announce cutbacks to its huge monthly bond purchasing program at next Tuesday and Wednesday's policy meeting.

The retail sales report added to July data on consumer spending, industrial production, housing starts and durable goods orders that have suggested growth took a step back from the first quarter's 2.5 percent annual pace.

Sales at auto dealerships rebounded 0.9 percent last month after falling 0.5 percent in July. Excluding autos, sales nudged up 0.1 percent after rising 0.6 percent the prior month.

Sales at building materials and garden equipment suppliers fell 0.9 percent. Clothing store receipts declined 0.8 percent, the biggest fall in nearly 1½ years, reflecting weak back-to- school sales. That may not be a good sign for the holiday season.

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Guess all these stores etc don\'t realize most people are just about broke... yet

September 15 2013 at 8:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the revisions showed that for the 2nd consecutive month, the upward revision to the previously reported monthly sales gain alone was actually greater than the entire sales gain of the reporting month....

retail and food services sales for July were originally reported at a seasonally adjusted of $424,481 million, up just $832 million from June sales ; that has now been revised to show sales of $425 657, a $1.815 billion or 0.42% increase over June sales, which are now shown to be at $423 842; hence, this \"August\" report in effect added $983 million to July\'s sales...meanwhile, August sales as estimated at $426,563 were on up $901 million from July\'s $425,657 million....so what looks like a weak report is actually shows more than twice as great a sales gain as the headline indicates, due to revisions, which is exactly what also happpened last month...

September 13 2013 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply