Retail Spending Remains Strong, Up More Than 6% in July

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U.S. consumer spending increased by 6.4% year over year to $507.5 billion in July and up by 0.5% month over month from a downwardly revised June total of $504.9 billion. The U.S. Census Bureau released its estimated retail sales data for July Monday morning. A poll of economists had forecast that retail sales would rise 0.1% compared with sales in June.

With the single exception of sales of in the sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and bookstores category, month-over-month sales increased in every business sector. The revised June month-over-month increase totaled 0.2% over May sales.

Sales of motor vehicles rose 0.2% month over month from June and rose 4% compared with June 2017. Car sales totaled $95.55 billion last month on an adjusted basis, up from $95.37 billion in June and up from $92.08 billion in July 2017.

Total retail sales for the seven-month period between January and July rose 5.5% compared with year-ago totals.

Retail trade sales rose 0.4% month over month and jumped 6% year over year. Nonstore retail sales rose 8.7% year over year. Month over month, nonstore retail sales rose 0.8%.

Gasoline station sales rose 0.8% month over month and are up 22.2% year over year. The increase is due largely to higher pump prices. Unadjusted gas sales totaled were about $8.3 billion more in July than in the same month last year.

Electronics stores posted a sales increase of 0.1% month over month and a year-over-year increase of 4.2% in sales.

Department stores posted a month-over-month sales increase of 1.2% and were up 0.3% year over year.

Sales of building materials and garden supplies were flat month over month and up 3.4% higher year over year.

Food services and bar sales increased by 1.3% month over month and are up 9.7% year over year.

Clothing stores posted a month-over-month gain of 1.3%, and have added 6.44% year to date compared to July 2017.