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US Consumers Reeling: Core Retail Sales Post Weakest Growth In Over Three Years

This is not the data the Fed was looking for: after the 4th consecutive miss in CPI data, moments ago the Census Bureau also reported June retail sales which was unexpectedly poor, missing across the board once again, and judging by the surge in bonds, suggests that the Fed's rate hike intentions and narrative is now on indefinite hold.

The details, as shown below, missed in every category:

  • Retail sales down -0.2%, Exp. +0.2% after falling 0.1% in May
  • Retail ex-autos -0.2%, Exp. +0.2%
  • Retail sales ex-autos and gas -0.1%, Exp. 0.4%
  • Retail sales control group -0.1%, Exp. +0.3%

Furthermore, the steep disappoinment in the control group, suggests that Q2 GDP estimates are about to be revised sharply lower.

Putting the weak consumer spending data in context, core retail sales ex auto/gas posted by the lowest annual increase going back to February 2014.

The breakdown: despite a modest rebound in Motor Vehicle Sales (0.1%), Building Material and Garden equipment (0.5%) and Health and Personal care stores (0.3%), and of course the relentless increase in non-store retailers, i.e., internet vendors such as Amazon, which rose 0.4%, the rest declined led by a sharp decline in Miscellaneous store retailers which tumbled -3.1%.

Coupled with the miss in CPI, the USD has taken a plunge and the risk is, as Citi notes, it has more to go. More importantly, the Fed is now in a hole how to explain not only the 4th consecutive CPI miss but also the unexpectedly poor retail sales confirming that US consumers fail to see the so-called economic recovery.