August Retail Sales Sink on Weak Auto Sales

August Retail Sales Sink on Weak Auto Sales

A poll of economists had forecast that retail sales would be flat compared with sales in August 2016. Vehicle sales totaled $105.14 billion last month on an unadjusted basis, up from $102.36 billion in July and up from $103.21 billion in August 2016.

Retail sales for the "control group" fell 0.2% M/M in August.

The Census Bureau noted that it wasn't able to isolate Hurricane Harvey's impact on August retail numbers, but said the agency had received "indications from the companies that the hurricane had both positive and negative effects on their sales data, while others indicated they were not impacted at all".

Underlying sales rose 0.2% on the month after a 0.4% gain previously which was also below consensus forecasts, although annual growth strengthened slightly to 3.6% from 3.4%.

"Retail industry earnings and sales growth has been in the dumps for the better part of the last 10 quarters despite a continued modest economic expansion and improving personal income", Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins said in an email to Retail Dive.

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Online sales fell by 1.1% - the steepest monthly fall since 2014 - sending shares in e-commerce giant Amazon down by 0.3%. The eight-month total for gas stations is up 8.1% year over year, due largely to higher pump prices.

Sales were stronger across a broad range of products.

Furniture and home furnishings stores increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over July and increased 5.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Grocery store sale were up 0.3% month over month and up 1.9% year over year.

Clothing sales declined 1.0% on the month and there was also a decline in building material sales. Food and drink establishments posted a gain of 0.3% month over month and sales are up 2.3% year over year.