Retail sales rebound in July

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- After two months of declines, retail sales rebounded in July, the government said Friday.

Total retail sales rose 0.4% to $362.7 billion, compared with June's 0.3% decrease, the Commerce Department said. The June drop was revised from the originally reported 0.5%.

The overall sales percentage gain was slightly lower than anticipated. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected sales would rise by 0.5% during the month.

Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, so retail sales and related reports are closely monitored to gauge the health of the economy.

Sales excluding autos and auto parts rose 0.2% last month, in line with economists' forecasts. In June, sales on the same basis were down 0.1%.

Motor vehicle and parts sales also rose 1.6% in the month, and gasoline store sales rose 2.3%.

As the recovery tugs along at a slower pace than most analysts had originally expected, consumers are still cautious about their spending. But July also marked the start of back-to-school shopping season, which often means a boost in sales.

"Back-to-school has accelerated into the July timeframe and we certainly know that parents are expecting to spend more than they did last year. The July numbers would indicate that that's going to be playing out through August as well," said Janet Hoffman, managing director of consultant firm Accenture's retail practice.

Overall, retail sales are up 5.5% over July last year, the government report said.

But the year-over-year comparison is not necessarily something to "jump for joy over," as retailers come off some deep hits last year during the downturn, said Doug Hart, a partner in the consumer product division of business services firm BDO.

On a month-to-month basis, sales are still showing relatively flat to modest gains in line with a slow recovery, he said.

"Consumers are still looking for value. They're still cautious," Hart said.

Analysts also often look to back-to-school season to forecast how retailers will fare during their most profitable season - the winter holidays.

Hoffman said she doesn't expect a "shocking uptick" in retail sales during the holidays, but is forecasting sales growth for that period. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,293.33 27.34 0.16%
Nasdaq 4,580.91 -12.52 -0.27%
S&P 500 2,011.72 0.36 0.02%
Treasuries 2.59 -0.04 -1.60%
Data as of 3:58pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Yahoo! Inc 41.14 -0.95 -2.25%
Bank of America Corp... 16.97 -0.07 -0.41%
Oracle Corp 39.90 -1.65 -3.97%
Microsoft Corp 47.26 0.58 1.24%
Apple Inc 101.73 -0.06 -0.06%
Data as of 3:43pm ET

Sections

P&G, a major NFL sponsor, will still contribute $100,000 to fight breast cancer but won't be part of the league's events next month. More

Scotland's clear rejection of independence has eased fears that it could suffer the kind of decline seen in Quebec after it failed to break away from Canada. More

It's really good to be Larry Ellison. The Oracle founder is stepping down as CEO, so maybe he'll have more time to enjoy his glamorous life. More

As Occupy Wall Street goes on its debt-abolishing tear, thousands of people across the country are begging them to forgive their loans. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.