Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Retail Sales Slip 0,8% in May, April Tally Revised Upward / Steepest Drop since July

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Retail Sales Slip 0,8% in May, April Tally Revised Upward / Steepest Drop since July

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (UPI) - U.S. retail sales slipped 0.8 percent in May, the steepest drop since July, but April sales were far more than earlier reported, government economists said Thursday.

The report showed that so far the current April-June quarter is running ahead of the January-March first quarter, an encouraging sign that consumers are still confident and in a spending mood.

The massive revisions contained in the latest report and discrepancies with other data confused many analysts and investors anxious to pin down the economy's prospects.

Sales were up a strong 2.4 percent in April, the report said, surprising analysts with the large upward revision from the bureau's first April report on May 14 showing sales increases of only 0.9 percent.

The biggest change was in the auto figures. Thursday's report said automobile sales, which account for 20 percent of the dollar volume of all sales, actually increased 7 percent in April instead ofdropping 2.7 percent, as reported a month ago.

That change alone added $1.3 billion to April sales and made the decline in May auto sales, of 3.2 percent, far less ominous.

The latest report said May sales of merchandise were worth $113.7 billion after seasonal adjustment, 5.3 percent above a year earlier.

""I think we are seeing these erratic numbers in part because of the impact of the delayed tax refunds,'' economist Sandra Shaber said, speaking for the Chase Econometrics analysis firm. ""The end of the quotas on Japanese cars has given the auto sales a real roller-coaster ride,'' she added.

Overall the figures seem to suggest ""modest growth, much below the heyday of the recovery,'' she said. But lower interest rates should help sustain consumers in the months ahead, she said. …

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