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US retail sector slumps on lower auto sales

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US retail sector slumps on lower auto sales

Retail sales in the United States declined 0.1 percent in September after falling automobile sales put a dent to an otherwise productive month. Retail sales excluding automobiles rose 0.4 percent in September, up from 0.1 percent the previous month.

Automotive sales dipped 2.2 percent, the largest monthly decline since October 2012. Automakers attributed the drop to inconsistencies in the industry calendar, as deliveries for the first two days of September were included in the August tally. Automakers said vehicle demand remained high in September, with sales growing at an annual pace of 15.2 million. In August cars and light trucks sold at an annual pace of 16 million, a six-year high.

In total, nine of the 13 major retail sectors reported growth in September, led by a 0.7 percent hike for electronics and appliance stores. Electronics retailers likely benefited from the surge in video game purchases, after Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V shattered industry sales records. The latest instalment of the popular Grand Theft Auto series earned US $800 million in the first 24 hours of its release, and $1 billion its first three days. The game accounted for more than half of total video game sales in September.

Food services and drinking places advanced 0.9 percent in September. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores increased 0.5 percent, and general merchandise stores accelerated 0.4 percent. Miscellaneous retailers experienced the second biggest drop behind automakers, falling 1.2 percent last month.

Retail spending has increased modestly this year, and household wealth is getting a boost from the stock market. The S&P 500 is poised for its best yearly gain since 2003. The benchmark gauge has advanced almost 5 percent in October and more than 20 percent year-to-date. However, weaker job growth, budget uncertainty and stagnating real wages will continue to pressure consumer spending in the fourth quarter.

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