Retail Sales Surge In August

Retail sales grew 0.6% in August. 

Expectations were for sales to climb 0.6% in August, up from flat sales in July.

July’s report was also revised up 0.3% from flat sales. Excluding auto sales, July’s report was revised up to 0.3% from 0.1%. 

Excluding car sales, retail sales rose 0.3%, in-line with expectations, and excluding autos and gas, sales gained 0.5%, which was also in-line with estimates. 

In August, general merchandise sales, which includes department stores and wholesale clubs, fell 0.1%. 

Following the report, Joe LaVorgna at Deutsche Bank said on Twitter:

Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macro said, “In one line: Solid, especially when revisions taken into account. August retail sales rose 0.6%, in line with the consensus. Sales ex-autos rose 0.3%, also matching expectations. But note the +0.5% revision to prior data, making the net report stronger than expected and lifting the y/y rate to 5.0% from 4.2% in July.”

These tables from the Census Bureau show the month-over-month and year-over-year change in retail sales.

And this chart from Bill McBride at Calculated Risk shows the change in retail sales, ex-gas, over the last 20 years. 

In a note to clients ahead of the report, Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macroeconomics said, “The August retail sales numbers should surprise to the upside today, offsetting at least some of July’s disappointment.”

Shepherdson added that, “All the indicators we look at, including auto sales and the chain store sales numbers, suggest that activity rebounded very strongly last month.” 

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