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Consumers Strip Store Shelves?

Posted by Joseph Trevisani on Aug 9, 2013 11:11:00 AM


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Well, not quite. But wholesale inventories have fallen for three months in a row, the longest stretch in almost four years, as consumers have unexpectedly increased their spending.

Inventories at U.S. wholesale distributors declined 0.2 percent in June following a revised 0.6 percent drop in May and a 0.1 percent fall in April. Economists in the Bloomberg survey had forecast a 0.4 percent increase.

Wholesale trade sales, the category for distributors who sell to retail outlets, rose 0.4 percent in June, about half the 0.7 percent prediction. These sales were up 1.5 percent in May, 0.7 percent in April and down 1.4 percent in March.

Retail sales climbed 0.4 percent in June, 0.5 percent in May and 0.2 percent in April. They declined 0.3 percent in March and inventories rose 0.3 percent that month. Sales are often a mirror image of the changes in inventories.

Consumers are buying automobiles, hardware and electrical equipment, depleting warehouse supplies, meaning that manufacturers and importers will have to replenish stocks. For American made goods that could boost domestic factory production.  Distribution warehouses had 1.17 months of inventory on hand at current sales rates, the smallest margin since April 2012.

Inventories of durable good, those designed to serve three or more years after purchase were flat in June after shrinking 0.3 percent in May. Non-durable inventories slid 0.3 percent in June having fallen 1.1 percent in May and 0.3 percent in April. Automobile inventories dropped 1.5 percent, the largest amount  this year.

Joseph Trevisani

Chief Market Strategist


Charts: Bloomberg

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