Retail sales in the U.S. unexpectedly increased in the month of June, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Friday.
The Commerce Department said retail sales climbed by 0.6 percent in June after plunging by a revised 1.7 percent in May.
The rebound surprised economists, who had expected retail sales to fall by 0.4 percent compared to the 1.3 percent slump originally reported for the previous month.
The unexpected rebound in retail sales came despite another steep drop in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, which tumbled by 2.0 percent in June after plummeting by 4.6 percent in May.
Excluding the continued nosedive in auto sales, retail sales jumped by an even stronger 1.3 percent in June following a revised 0.9 percent decrease in May.
Economists had been expecting ex-auto sales to increase by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.7 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.
The bigger than expected rebound in ex-auto sales reflected strong growth in sales by department stores, electronics and appliance stories, gas stations, clothing and accessories stores and food services and drinking places.
The report also showed closely watched core retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, surged up by 1.1 percent in June.
However, the decrease in core retail sales in May was revised to 1.4 percent, double the original 0.7 percent estimate.
“Despite a downward revision to the May decline in retail sales, headline and core retail sales are 18% and 19% above pre-pandemic level,” said Gregory Daco, Chief U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
He added, “And, while future retail sales readings may give the impression of hesitant consumers, they shouldn’t be viewed as a sign of wary households but rather a sign that vaccinated consumers are rotating their spending into services.”
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