According to today’s report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce, seasonally adjusted retail and food services sales in August rose 0.2% month-over-month and 4.7% compared with August 2012. Economists had been expecting a month-over-month increase of 0.5%. Excluding sales of cars and auto parts, sales were up just 0.1%, below the 0.3% improvement expected by economists.
Auto sales rose 1% month-over-month and were up 12.3% year-over-year. Furniture and home furnishings rose 0.9% above July sales and non-store sales (e-commerce) rose 0.5% over July and were 10.2% higher than August 2012.
Gasoline sales were flat month-over-month and down 1.5% year-over-year, largely a result of significantly lower pump prices compared with last year. The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge report shows a price of nearly $3.87 a gallon last year, compared with $3.54 today.
Sales fell 0.9% month-over-month at building and home improvement stores but were up 7.6% year-over-year. Electronics store sales rose 0.8% over July sales and 3.1% over August 2012.
Producer prices rose 0.3% in August, a bit higher than the 0.2% rise expected by economists. Excluding food and energy, prices were flat with July.
Energy prices rose by 0.8% after dropping in July. Gasoline prices were up 2.6% month-over-month.
The core rate held steady at 1.2% annual rate in August, and it will provide another reason for the Fed to maintain its asset buying program at the current level of $85 billion a month. The tepid growth in retail sales further signals no change at next week’s FOMC meeting.