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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Retail Sales Unchanged in August

Retail sales were unchanged (0%) in August as consumers in the U.S. reacted to a weak job market and volatile financial markets. This report follows 0.3% growth in July.

Non-auto sales posted a small 0.1% gain, down from July’s 0.2% increase. Sales excluding autos, building materials and gasoline were also unchanged. The weakness was broad based as most retail segments saw little sales growth between July and August.



The miscellaneous and clothing retailers saw the biggest drop, falling 2.2% and 0.7% respectively.

ABA's Chief Economist James Chessen commented, “August proved to be a difficult month for both consumers and the economy. With unemployment above 9%, volatile financial markets, and weak income growth, optimism is in short supply and buying decisions are put on hold.”

Read the report.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jim, What affect do you think foreign shoppers have had on our economy? Is it enough to move the needle on retail sales? I know anecdotally there has been a large increase in shoppers from Latin America, Europe (until recently), and Asia taking advantage of their stronger currencies and enjoying the safety and pleasent experience of shopping in the US. Thanks, Guillermo

James Chessen, ABA Chief Economist said...

Guillermo,

Foreign demand for U.S. goods can be gauged through the trade gap. Recently we have seen demand for U.S. goods rise as seen by exports rising from $171.8 billion in June to $178.0 billion in July, over the same period we saw the goods deficit fall from $67.0 billion to $60.6 billion. This data shows that foreign shoppers have been taking advantage of relatively strong currencies to purchase U.S. goods.

Anonymous said...

Jim,
But would there be enough spending by foreign visitors making purchases in the US to move the domestic retail sales numbers? I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago and it seemed like foreign visitors were definitely spending some money and the same is true in Manhattan. I have heard the same thing is true in Texas and Florida. The question is really about spending by foreign visitors moving retail sales up versus spending by US citizens. Really enjoy the post. Best, Guillermo

James Chessen, ABA Chief Economist said...

It is difficult to know for certain if foreign visitors to the United States are moving the needle on domestic retail sales without some kind of regular survey to this effect. There are some indicators, though: international visitors have increased (http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/tinews/archive/tinews2011/20110523.html), the dollar is relatively cheap compared to most currencies, and the trade gap indicates increased purchases of American goods (overseas).

Sorry we can’t get you more detail, Guillermo. Jim

Anonymous said...

Jim, No need for more information, just a thought about the danger of atributing the year on year growth in retail sales only to American consumers willingness or ability to consume and by extension some call on the strength of the economy.
All the Best,
Guillermo

Anonymous said...

Jim, Could you do an update on announced and potential job cuts in the financial services industry and banking in particular, due to all the changes in the regulatory environment and bank's sources of revenue?
Best, Guillermo

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