July Sales Report Flat, Consumers Pulling Back

After a decent initial report in the second quarter of this year, the consumer retail sales report for July came out the morning of August 13 and poured some cold water on analysts, as the number came back flat from the June report, which suggests a modest pullback in consumer spending.

While the U.S. Department of Commerce report for the April-to-June quarter suggested a 4.0 annualized growth rate for the economy based on retail sales, the July number came back with no growth from June, which seems to have stunted the optimism. Analysts had predicted a 0.2-percent growth number for the month, but the result was the worst for the economy since January.

When volatile items like food and gas prices are removed from the equation, retail sales lurched 0.1 percent forward, though still off the analysts’ projection of 0.4 percent. The latest number translated to a 1.2-percent annualized growth rate, which is far below the April-June quarter.

The reports revealed that auto sales again took a dip, dropping 0.2 percent in July after a 0.3-percent slip in June, which comes to an annualized drop of 6 percent.

On the bright side, sales at clothing stores went up 0.4 percent, or an annualized rate of nearly 5 percent.