US retail sales rise 0.2% in Aug but less than expected

13 September 2013 16:56  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US retail sales rose by 0.2% in August from July, the Commerce Department said on Friday, but the gain was less than expected and suggests that consumers are uncertain about the nation’s near-term economic future.

In its monthly report, the department said that US retail sales reached $426.6bn (€319.9bn) in August, a gain of 0.2% from July.

But July also had shown a mediocre 0.2% advance, much lower than the 0.6% growth seen in June.

Although the pace of retail sales in August was a comfortable 4.7% higher than the same month in 2012, last month’s measure “came in at a much slower pace than anticipated”, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

NRF president Matthew Shay said that the August figures show that “slow growth continues to be the economic story five years after the financial crisis”.

“The economy, employment, wages and retail sales continue to stagger along,” Shay said.

However, he added: “Retailers and consumers are resilient but not overly optimistic about the broader economy.”

“While positive retail sales growth continues month-after-month, it is just not strong enough to move the needle,” he said.

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz noted that “retail sales and employment, while measurably positive, have been disappointing over the last few months”.

“The data suggest that consumers remain cautious with their pocketbooks and purchases,” Kleinhenz said.

US retail sales are a key measure of consumer spending and sentiment.

Consumer spending in turn is the principal driving engine of the US economy, accounting for as much as 70% of all commercial activity and production.

The recent weak gains in retail sales are in contrast to other reports suggesting that the US recovery may be picking up speed.

($1 = €0.75)

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy


By: Joe Kamalick
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