U.S. retail sales fell for third straight month in June as consumers cut spending on goods including cars, building materials, and electronics and appliances, the Commerce Department said.
It was the first time since late 2008 that retail sales fell for three consecutive months. Sales were up 3.5 percent year-over-year.
Total retail sales declined 0.5 percent from May, the Commerce Department said. Sales of motor vehicles fell 0.6 percent. Excluding autos, retail sales fell 0.4 percent. Receipts at electronics and appliance stores dropped 0.8 percent. Sales of building materials slipped 1.6 percent. Receipts at gasoline stations fell 1.8 percent.
Retail sales account for about one-third of consumer spending, which represents 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. U.S. GDP grew at a 1.9 percent annual rate in the first quarter.
Global Port Tracker, published monthly by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, last week issued a more positive outlook for containerized imports, which rely heavily on retail sales.
The Port Tracker report estimated that June containerized imports at 10 major U.S. ports were up 4.7 percent year-over-year. The report forecast additional monthly increases through November.
Journal of Commerce Economist Mario O. Moreno forecasts total U.S. containerized imports this year will rise 4.1 percent.