June Retail Sales Rise 0.2%

By Kevin Kastner and Karen Mracek

WASHINGTON (MNI) - The value of retail sales rose 0.2% in June, below expectations, but followed an upward revised 0.5% gain in May that leaves second quarter spending above the first quarter average, data released by the Commerce Department Tuesday morning shows.

Retail sales were up 0.4% excluding the motor vehicle component, which posted a 0.3% drop in the month after rising 0.8% in the previous month. Excluding motor vehicles, gasoline, and building materials, "core" retail sales were also up 0.5%. And for good measure, excluding food services as well as the those three measures, retail sales were also up 0.6%.

Building materials sales fell 1.0% in June, following a 0.6% gain in May. Gasoline store sales, meanwhile, rose 0.3% in June following a 0.7% jump in May.

In addition to the motor vehicle category, there were sales jumps in health care stores (+0.9%), clothing stores (+0.8%), sporting goods stores (+0.6%), department stores and nonstore retailers. Food services and drinking places were down 0.3% in June.

With the June increases, second quarter sales in general were up from their first-quarter average. An MNI calculation shows total retail sales climbed 9.6% in the second quarter at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. Retail sales excluding motor vehicles were still up 7.2% at an annual rate in the quarter, while sales excluding motor vehicles, gas, and building materials were up 6.7% at an annual rate. The data suggest that second quarter PCE will be strong.

Also released on Thursday, import prices rose 0.1% in June, but were down 0.1% excluding foods and fuels prices. Fuel prices rose 1.2% in the month, as petroleum prices rose 1.4%. Export price posted a 0.4% drop overall and were down 0.3% excluding a 1.8% drop in agricultural commodities prices.