Report: July total U.S. retail sales mixed

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Purchase, N.Y. A report released Thursday by MasterCard Advisors found that July total retail sales edged up, but not as much as in June.

According to SpendingPulse, MasterCard Advisors’ report that tracks national retail and service sales, in July total retail sales, ex-auto, grew by 1.4% year-over-year with seasonally adjusted month-to-month sales declining by 0.9%. 

Excluding auto and gasoline, on a seasonally unadjusted basis, year-over-year sales in July grew by 1.0%, slightly below June’s 1.1% increase. 

“After several months of sales slowdown, total retail sales have stabilized somewhat, although overall growth has slowed sharply since earlier this year,” said Kamalesh Rao, director of economic research for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. “In fact, growth in July headline numbers was driven largely by an increase in spending on gasoline, which is why the ex-auto ex-gasoline number is a better barometer to measuring the underlying health in retail spending.”

July’s growth rate excluding auto and gasoline leaves the three-month average year-to-year growth rate of retail sales at 1.0%, well below the 3.5% for the prior three months, according to the report. 

“The ex-auto year-over-year numbers tell a similar story of a shallow and stabilizing trough, with the unadjusted three-month average year-over-year growth rate slowing to 1.6% compared with the 6.5% average growth rate for the previous three months,” said Rao.

On a sector basis, there was strength in e-commerce, airline, lodging, electronics and appliances, while spending in apparel, jewelry and luxury underperformed.  

On a regional basis, spending in all parts of the country, except the Pacific region, grew between 0.1% and 3.5% on a seasonally unadjusted year-over-year basis, with the Northeast on the upper end of the range and North Central and Great Plains enjoying a significant rebound.