Sales at retailers fell for a second month in June, pulled down by weak receipts at automotive dealers and gasoline stations, according to a government report on Wednesday that added to evidence the economic recovery was proceeding at a moderate pace.
The Commerce Department said total retail sales slipped 0.5 percent following a revised 1.1 percent drop in May. Sales in May were previously reported to have declined 1.2 percent.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales slipping 0.2 percent last month. Compared to June last year, sales were 4.8 percent higher.
The report adds to a number of weak economic data , including home sales and factory activity, suggesting the recovery from the most severe recession since the 1930s is cooling off a bit earlier than had been initially anticipated.
Last month, motor vehicle and parts purchases dropped 2.3 percent after falling 0.6 percent in May. Excluding autos, sales dipped 0.1 percent last month after dropping 1.2 percent in May. Markets had expected sales excluding autos to be flat.
Although the report showed weakness in some key categories, core retail sales, which exclude autos, gasoline and building materials, rose 0.2 percent after slipping 0.1 percent in May. Core sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of the government's gross domestic product report.
Building materials and garden equipment sales fell 1.0 percent, extending the prior month's 9.0 percent decline as the energy-efficient appliance incentives ended. Receipts at gasoline stations fell 2.0 percent after dropping 2.5 percent in May, reflecting weak gasoline prices during the month.
Receipts at sporting goods, hobby and book stores fell 1.4 percent last month after rising 0.3 percent in May. The decline in overall sales was cushioned by purchases at electronics and appliance stores, which rose 1.3 percent. Clothing and clothing accessories sales rose 0.6 percent, reversing the prior month's 0.4 percent fall.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)