Retail sales in the U.S. climbed by much more than expected in the month of July, the Commerce Department revealed in a report on Wednesday, although the report also showed a significant downward revision to the sale growth in June.
The Commerce Department said retail sales rose by 0.5 percent in July compared to economist estimates for a 0.1 percent uptick.
However, the report also showed the increase in retail sales in June was downwardly revised to 0.2 percent from the 0.5 percent previously reported.
The stronger than expected retail sales growth in July was partly due to a modest increase in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, which edged up by 0.2 percent after inching up by 0.1 percent in June.
Excluding the increase in auto sales, retail sales climbed by 0.6 percent in July after rising by 0.2 percent in June. Ex-auto sales had been expected to rise by 0.3 percent.
The report showed significant sales growth at clothing and accessories stores, food services and drinking places, and department stores.
Sales by non-store retailers also advanced by 0.8 percent, partly reflecting Amazon’s (AMZN) record-breaking Prime Day sale.
Closely watched core retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, climbed by 0.5 percent in July after a revised 0.1 percent dip in June.
“With sales growth having been unusually strong for several months now, a modest slowdown over the next couple of months looks inevitable,” said Andrew Hunter, U.S. Economist at Capital Economics.
He added, “Indeed, after the fiscal stimulus-fueled 4% annualized surge in the second quarter, we continue to expect real consumption growth to slow to between 2.5% and 3.0% annualized in the third quarter, with overall GDP growth slowing to a similar rate.”
Compared to the same month a year ago, retail sales were up by 6.4 percent in July versus the 6.1 percent year-over-year increase in June.