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Discretionary spending down in June


WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales declined during the month of June, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

U.S. retail and food services sales for the month, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $401.5 billion, an decrease of 0.5% from the previous month but 3.8% above the year-ago period. Retail trade sales were down 0.5% from last month but 3.5% above last year.

Looking across retail categories, adjusted sales at grocery stores during the month of April increased about 0.1% to roughly $47.06 billion. Health and personal care stores saw a slight decline to nearly $22.8 billion. Retail sales for drug stores and pharmacies were not recorded; however, sales experienced a slight drop from April to May (about $19.14 billion). General merchandise stores' sales decreased 0.2% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and remained flat unadjusted year-over-year.

Commenting on the results, the National Retail Federation said there is "no doubt about it that consumers cooled off on discretionary spending this spring."

"While the retail industry remains confident in an incremental recovery, today’s statistics should concern every policy-maker in Washington, and compel them to revisit burdensome regulations and job-killing tax increases set to take effect early next year," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said.

Added NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, "Weak economic numbers over the past few weeks have increased anxiety about the future direction of the economy. Today's data is discouraging but not demoralizing. If you look at the first half of the year overall, retail sales actually increased 4.6% year-over-year, indicating that the economy is improving but maybe not quick enough to impact consumer spending and job growth."

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