The Commerce Department said today that retail sales, excluding automobiles, rebounded in July, which good news for carriers which ship to electronics, furniture and department stores. Sales rose 0.2%, excluding autos, and reversed a 0.2% June decline.
The department said consumers also spent more at health care stores, sporting goods outlets and restaurants. Analysts say consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the economy, may accelerate in coming months as the bulk of the government's mailings of advance tax refund checks totaling $38 billion reaches consumers. However, the department said the tax refund checks probably had little effect on the July retail sales figures.
Sales of furniture, home furnishings, and equipment rose 0.4% in July after rising 0.2% in June. Electronics and appliance store sales increased 0.7% in July after rising 1.8% the month before.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Home Depot Inc. said fiscal second-quarter earnings rose as low prices attracted consumers, while a decline in catalog sales led to a loss at J.C. Penney Co.
Net income rose 1.6% at Wal-Mart, the biggest retailer, and a better-than-expected 10%at Home Depot, the No. 3 US merchant. J.C. Penney's loss was $69 million, compared with net income of $23 million in the year-earlier quarter.