Retail sales in U.S. increase for fourth consecutive month

Clothing Sales

Michael Kors Holdings, the luxury-goods company founded by the designer of the same name, this month reported first-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates amid surging North American sales. The Hong Kong-based Company said revenue in the quarter ended June 29 increased 54% from the same time last year. Revenue in North America, Kors’s largest region, rose 46%.

Sales at automobile dealers fell 1% after rising 2.9% the prior month, today’s report showed. The figures don’t always track the industry data used to calculate economic growth because they can be influenced by prices.

Cars and trucks sold at a 15.7 million annualized rate last month after a 15.8 million pace in June, the strongest back-to- back readings since the end of 2007, according to figures from Ward’s Automotive Group.

“There’s still significant upside potential for cars,” Carl Riccadonna, a senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York, said. “The volume of sales was so abnormally low over the past five years that there’s a lot of catch up to be done.”

Improving sales have led GM, Ford, Chrysler Group LLC, and Honda Motor Co. to boost capacity. Chrysler is adding almost 300 jobs at a Michigan engine plant and Honda will invest $215 million at facilities in Ohio.

Auto Sales

“We’re at the beginning of a broad-based recovery for the economy in auto retail,” said Michael Jackson, chairman and chief executive officer of AutoNation Inc., in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The largest U.S. auto-dealership group last month reported record earnings per share in the second quarter. “As we look at the rest of 2013, we believe that the improvement in new vehicle sales will continue,” Jackson said on a July 18 earnings call.

Today’s report showed some weakness in housing-related categories as sales at furniture, appliance and building material stores declined.

Areas showing gains included restaurants and bars, grocery stores and sporting goods outlets. Within general merchandise, department stores showed a 0.6% increase in sales last month, the biggest since March 2012.

The gains in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy, are extending to restaurants including McDonald’s Corp. to shopping mall developers such as Rouse Properties Inc. in New York. Luxury goods makers also are rebounding, with LVMH Moet Hennessy, Louis Vuitton SA and Gucci- owner Kering SA last month reporting accelerating sales.

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