Retail sales rose 0.1 percent in June as a rise in spending at automobile dealerships and chain stores offset a drop in gasoline prices, the Commerce Department said.
Recovery from supply chain disruptions following the Japan earthquake in March pushed automobile sales up 0.8 percent. Sales at general merchandise stores, including big-box retailers, rose 0.4 percent. Falling prices pushed gas station sales down 1.3 percent.
Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity and is watched closely in transportation. Retail shipments generate a large share of intermodal shipments and containerized imports.
The National Retail Federation’s monthly Global Port Tracker this week forecast that containerized imports through the top 10 ports for retail shipments would be flat before rising by double digits this fall during the peak season for holiday shipments.
Large retailers enjoyed strong sales in June, aided by warm weather and clearance sales. The International Council of Shopping Centers said this month its survey of 28 store chains showed retailers enjoyed their best June in 12 years, based on revenue at stores open at least a year.