(Source: Rappler | October 14, 2015)
Retail sales are a sign of the strength of consumer spending, which drives about two thirds of the US economy’s activity
US retail sales edged up in September, curbed by plunging gasoline prices that offset surging auto sales, government data released Wednesday, October 14, showed.
Commerce Department reported retail sales for September rose just 0.1% from August, half the increase expected by analysts.
Adding to the lackluster tone of the report, the department revised August’s reading to flat from aThe 0.2% rise originally reported.
Retail sales are a sign of the strength of consumer spending, which drives about two thirds of the US economy’s activity. The data, which account for less than half of all consumption, are seasonally adjusted but not adjusted for prices.
In September, the small rise in retail sales reflected a 1.7% jump in auto sales, the strongest gain since May. That was offset by a 3.2% drop in gasoline sales at the pump.
Stripping out auto sales, retail sales fell 0.3% in September. Excluding gasoline, they rose 0.4%. Stripping out both, sales were flat.
Restaurant and bar sales rose 0.7%, while food sales dropped 0.3%.
“With the strong dollar pushing down prices, slowing nominal sales don’t necessarily imply slowing real consumption,” said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.
“Auto sales, which are booming… tell us more about the underlying state of the consumer than the other components of headline sales,” he said.
Compared with a year ago, auto sales were the strongest of all the sectors in September, jumping 8.8%. In second place were sales in restaurants and bars, up 7.9%. At the same time, gasoline sales plunged almost 20%.