U.S. retail sales declined in June for the second straight month, raising concerns about slowing economic growth in the second half of this year.
Retail spending in June dropped 0.5 percent from May, when they fell 1.1 percent from the previous month, the Commerce Department said.
“Today’s data shows consumers continue to take a cautious approach towards shopping,” said Matt Shay president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. “However, growth in key areas such as electronics, apparel and department stores is an encouraging sign as we enter the back-to-school shopping season.”
Most of the decline came from a drop in auto sales and a decline in gasoline prices. Excluding autos and gasoline, sales would have risen 0.1 percent in June after falling 1 percent in May.
Retail stores’ sales in June were down 0.6 percent from May but 5 percent above June 2009. E-commerce retailers’ sales rose 12.1 percent from June 2009 and gasoline station sales were up 8.8 percent from June 2009.
Total sales for the year’s first six months were up 6.8 percent from the previous year.
“Moderate growth these last few months proves that consumer uncertainty remains. A slow- growing economy and high unemployment rates will continue to hinder consumers’ decisions to spend on discretionary items, said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.
“We are encouraged by the fact that parents are eager to start their back-to-school shopping this year, but the industry still remains cautiously optimistic about recovery,” said Shay.
He said the second half of the year will provide a better gauge of holiday spending, which annually produces a surge in containerized import and intermodal traffic.
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