Led by sales of automobiles and gasoline, retail sales rose 1.4% in July, according to figures released today by the Dept. of Commerce.
Retail sales rose 0.5% in May and 0.9% in June. July's performance beat analysts' expectations of a 1% rise in sales, according to The Associated Press.
Yesterday, the Federal Reserve chose to keep short-term interest rates at a 45-year low of 1%, which is another sign that the economy may be recovering.
Sales by automobiles dealerships rose by 3.2% in July, up from a 0.4% increase in June. Automakers have been offering free-financing and other incentives to bolster sales. Gasoline sales improved 1.6%, up from 1% in June.
The American Automobile Assn.'s reported today that gasoline prices have risen since mid-July due primarily to low inventories of gasoline and increased fuel demand from summer vacationers.
Analyst Jerry Leonard of Ormond Beach, FL-based Martin Labbe Associates said the positive retail figures, combined with recent indexes released by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), are positive signs for a trucking turnaround.
ISM's new orders index jumped to 66.9 from 57.5 in June, and the manufacturing index rose to 51.8 last month from 49.8 in June. A reading above 50 in either index is a sign of expansion, according to ISM.
"It's more of an indication of good things to come for the industry," Leonard told Fleet Owner. "We're really starting to see a turn of good fortune for freight."