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17 August 2017, 12:36 | Maryann Sutton
US retail sales soar in July to 7-month high
In the month of July, biggest increase has been recorded in USA retail sales seven months as customers assisted purchases of motor vehicles and lifted discretionary spending.
Economists have been expecting the USA economy to pick up steam in the second half of the year and that view got some support from the latest retail sales report - with a bit of help from Amazon. May's retail sales were revised to show no change instead of the previously reported 0.1 per cent dip.
Nonstore Retailers were up 11.5% from July 2016, while Building Materials and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers were up 8.3% from a year ago.
Analysts, who had been expecting an increase of only 0.3 per cent in July, said the result was a strong start to growth in the third quarter.
The strong auto sales came despite industry reports which showed vehicle and truck sales fell six per cent from July 2016.
The acceleration in consumer spending in the second quarter came at the expense of savings, a trend that economists say is unsustainable. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation's economy.
"The decline in the saving rate, however, raises some longer-term concerns about consumer spending", said Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan in NY.
Excluding sales of autos and parts, sales rose by 0.5% on the month to hit $378.8bn (consensus: 0.4%). Faced with a huge inventory of unsold cars, auto dealerships are resorting to hefty discounts to attract buyers.
Amazon's Prime Day helped boost US retail sales in July. Americans increased spending last month on most goods except for clothes and gasoline.
Still, July was even better for the non-store retailers like Amazon and Jet that have soared in recent years, and increased 1.3 per cent compared to June, also their strongest gain since December.
Helping to push the June level higher was a 1.2% increase in auto sales from the month before, its biggest increase since December.
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