Retail Sales Data Preview: Analysts Project Rise In July Figure, But Can't Agree On Consensus

 @AlexCKaufman on August 12 2013 5:26 PM
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A woman shops with her daughter at a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Rogers, Ark. June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

July retail sales data in the U.S. due to be released on Tuesday morning are expected to rise for a fourth straight month as rising home prices drive construction and wholesalers shed the earlier seasonal downturns, analysts told International Business Times.

However, analysts at several different firms offered estimates ranging from an average increase of 0.2 percent to 0.7 percent.

The U.S. Census Bureau is slated to release July sales figures at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Tuesday. Analysts polled by Briefing.com expected, on average, the number would rise 0.2 percent, following June’s 0.4 percent gain.

Economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires expected a 0.3 percent increase on average for July.

But Robert Johnson, the director of economic analysis at Morningstar, estimated a 0.4 percent jump in July as the increase in auto sales that drove the previous month’s rise “basically held its ground in July.”

“Auto sales, which had an unusually large jump in June, basically held its ground in July, which generally means that consumers are doing well,” Johnson wrote in a note on Monday. “The headline noninflation adjusted retail sales figure is forecast to grow 0.4 percent in July, about the same as June.”

He pointed to the International Council of Shopping Center’s monthly data from last Thursday, which showed a 4.4 percent growth rate for August at the 11 major retailers that report to the group.

“In general, the weekly retail sales reports for chain stores have been slowly getting better,” Johnson told IBTimes in a phone interview. “[The 4.4 percent growth rate], that was the best number since January. I would tend to say those numbers might look OK.”

His colleague, Kenneth Perkins, a fellow analyst at Morningstar, said many retailers saw anemic sales growth numbers in recent months because of fluctuating weather and other seasonal issues.

“Seasonal issues shouldn’t impact the rate going forward,” Perkins, who analyzes corporate grocery chains and big-box retailers at the Chicago analyst firm, told IBTimes.

Analysts at UBS projected a 0.7 percent rise in total sales, on the back of positive store sales measures and edged-up auto sales. They added that “some reacceleration in sales at food and drinking places also appears likely after two months of unusual weakness.”

“Our forecasts for the week ahead’s consumer data are stronger than consensus,” they wrote in a note sent to investors on Monday. “We forecast road strength in retail sales in July, with a 0.7 percent rise in total sales.”

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