Retail Sales increased +0.5% for July 2011 and are up 8.5% from the same time last year. June retail sales percentage change was revised from +0.1% to +0.3%. Autos sales were +0.5% in July and are up 8.3% from July 2010. Considering the consumer was D.O.A. in Q2, this is a better news report, although retail sales are not adjusted for price increases, not reported in real dollars.
Some in the press are touting this as a great monthly percentage increase. To keep the gains in perspective, below is the graph of monthly percentage changes since 2008. Yes, finally upward, but not a huge blow out.
Gas sales increased +1.6% from June and are up a whopping +23.6% for the year. All hail Exxon. Grocery retail sales increased +0.6% and are up +8.2% from July 2010. Nonstore retailers increased +0.9% but are up +14.1% from a year previous. Nonstore retailers are online shopping, mail order, door to door. It's clear online shopping is increasing in market share.
Retail trade sales are retail sales minus food and beverage services and it increased +0.5% in July and are up +8.9% for the year.
Electronics and appliances increased +1.4% for July, gotta be all of those cell phone hype machines. Yes, I too wish to pay $100 in 4G overage fees to watch an HD movie on a super small screen. Sporting goods are down -1.5%, furniture, which has been depressed for some time, is up +0.5% for July and +1.1% for the year.
Advanced retail sales are reported three month tallies. There is variation in the monthly reported figures as well as data reporting lag. The three month tally, from May to July, is up +8.2% in comparison to the same period in 2010.
Retail sales correlates to personal consumption, which is about 70% of GDP growth. Yet GDP has inflation removed from it's numbers. This is why Wall Street jumps on these retail sales figures. Lord help them if America stops shoppin'.
The below graph is retail sales minus autos & parts, which also increased +0.5% this month.