Wednesday, March 4th-9.1°C
25405

US retail sales edge up just 0.2 pct. in June, a sign cautious consumers may restrain growth

WASHINGTON - U.S. retail sales increased slightly in June, evidence that consumers remain cautious despite steady job gains this year.

Retail sales rose just 0.2 per cent last month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, held back by a sharp drop at building and garden supply stores. Sales also fell at restaurants and at auto dealers.

The figures suggest that Americans are still reluctant to spend freely, limiting growth in the April-June quarter. While employers have stepped up hiring since January, wage growth remains weak and is barely keeping up with inflation. Retail sales are closely watched because consumer spending accounts for 70 per cent of the economy.

Still, economists were encouraged by some of the details in the report. A measure of retail sales that excludes volatile categories such as gasoline and autos rose at a solid 0.6 per cent clip. Clothing stores, sporting goods stores and department stores all recorded decent sales gains. And a category that includes online and catalogue retailers jumped 0.9 per cent in June and has increased 8.1 per cent in the past 12 months. That's nearly double the 4.3 per cent growth in overall retail sales in the past year.

"While the headline number for June was disappointing, there were some underlying pockets of strength," Jim Baird, chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors, said. "The solid advance ... across numerous retail sectors suggests that consumers are spending, but doing so selectively."

Sales at auto and auto parts dealers fell 0.3 per cent, which contradicts strong data released by the automakers themselves earlier this month. The automakers had said sales reached an eight-year high in June. The two sets of data can sometimes conflict on a month-to-month basis.

Retail sales were revised higher in May to 0.5 per cent from 0.3 per cent, and in April to 0.6 per cent from 0.5 per cent.

Most analysts now expect the economy will expand at about a 3 per cent annual pace in the April-June quarter, a forecast that was little changed by the retail sales report. That's not as strong a rebound as many economists had hoped from a weak first quarter, when the economy shrank 2.9 per cent, largely because of cold weather.

Economists had expected second-quarter growth of 3.5 per cent rate a month ago, according to a survey by the National Association for Business Economics.

Several retailers have reported disappointing sales in the past month. Family Dollar, the Container Store and the Gap have all blamed falling sales on consumer caution. The CEO of the Container Store said the chain has been hurt by a "retail funk."

Yet some other stores reported healthy sales gains, including the discount club chain Costco and grocery chain Kroger's.

Purchases of large items like autos may be leaving many Americans with less money to spend on discretionary items like clothes and electronics. Rising grocery prices have likely also squeezed household budgets.

Still, employers are hiring at a healthy pace, which may give Americans more confidence to spend. Employers have added an average of 230,000 jobs a month in the first half of this year, up from 194,000 a month in 2013. That's knocked the unemployment rate down to 6.1 per cent, the lowest in nearly six years.

___

Contact Chris Rugaber on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/ChrisRugaber/

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News




Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX15133.85-130.20
S&P CDNX702.30-2.05
DJIA18203.37-85.26
Nasdaq4979.901-28.195
S&P 5002107.78-9.61
CDN Dollar0.7986-0.002
Gold1202.30-1.70
Oil51.59-0.55
Lumber294.00-0.40
Natural Gas2.699-0.035

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.13-0.005
Knighthawk0.010.00
QHR Technologies Inc1.600.00
Cantex0.035-0.005
Anavex Life Sciences0.175-0.005
Metalex Ventures0.0450.00
Russel Metals25.21-0.33
Copper Mountain Mining1.25-0.04
Colorado Resources0.1350.00
ReliaBrand Inc0.0065-0.0015
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.045-0.005
Mission Ready Services0.215-0.01

 





FEATURED Property
17363674174 Gallaghers Forest S.
3 bedrooms 3 baths
$789,000
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Refinance your mortgage?

Canadian Mortgage rates are low and could be dropping down in time for the spring market following a drop in the Bank of Canada Rate on January 21 by 1/4% which will save new buyers and those with mo...


Creating your retirement vision

A vision means different things to different people. To the head of a large corporation, it’s the ability to chart a course that will deliver success (think Steve Jobs and Apple), to a shaman, i...


Are you asking the right questions?

Have you ever had this happen to you? You are in the middle of your second or third good discussion with a prospect and everything seems to be going great. The prospect seems engaged and happy to work...

_








Member of BC Press Council


25413