The Commerce Department reported this morning that retail sales, including food services, fell to $373.9 billion in June, a 0.9% drop from May but an increase of 3.8% above the same month last year. The drop was far greater than expected by economists, who were expecting a decline in the neighborhood of 0.1%.
Leading the losing categories was the auto industry, which was off nearly 3% from May to June. Other big losers, reflecting the housing downturn, were furniture stores, at which sales declined 3.0% sequentially, and building and garden supply stores, which fell 2.3%. Electronics and appliance stores were down 1.4%.
Overall, retailing was off a full percentage point from May to June. Sequential gains were posted by food and beverage stores (0.4%); health and personal-care stores (1.2%); sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores (0.4%); general merchandise stores (0.3%); non-store retailers (1.2%) and food services and drinking places (0.1%).