Although headline retail sales increased by only 0.2% m/m in August, that gain was dragged down by a price-related 1.8% m/m fall in gasoline station sales. The overall change from this time last year was an increase of 2.2%.
The overall gain in headline sales was helped by a 0.7% m/m increase in motor vehicle sales, which isn’t overly surprising given we already knew from auto manufacturers that unit auto sales reached a decade high in August. Building material sales declined 1.8% m/m in August, but all that did was reverse the 1.9% m/m increase in July.
Excluding autos, gasoline and building materials, so-called control group sales rose by 0.4% m/m in August.
In summary, the August retail sales report suggests that the bout of late-month financial turmoil, which impacted consumer confidence a little, did not have any meaningful adverse impact on consumption, even when the late Labor Day holiday this year will have pushed more back to school spending into September.