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Quarterly Retail Commodity Survey, fourth quarter 2014

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Released: 2015-04-13

Retail sales rose 4.1% to $133.8 billion in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter in 2013. Higher sales were reported in 8 of the 10 major commodity groups.

Sales of motor vehicles, parts and services (+9.0%) were the largest contributor to the increase. Sales of new automotive vehicles grew 10.1%, posting their second consecutive double-digit increase. Sales of new trucks, vans, mini-vans, sport utility vehicles and buses were up 13.6%, while sales of new cars rose 3.6%. The overall increase was attributable to a higher number of vehicles sold. Sales were also up for used automotive vehicles (+9.6%) and automotive parts and accessories (+5.9%).

Receipts for food and beverages grew 4.7% in the fourth quarter, mainly as a result of higher prices. The largest contributors to this gain were sales of alcoholic beverages (+5.1%) and fresh meat and poultry (+9.0%).

Retail sales of clothing, footwear and accessories rose 5.9%. Increases in men's clothing and accessories (+7.4%) and women's clothing and accessories (+3.0%) were largely attributable to higher sales of shirts, pants and sweaters for men and outerwear for women. Footwear recorded its largest gain (+10.5%) in nearly three years, due in part to the introduction of new product lines.

In the fourth quarter, sales receipts of furniture, home furnishings and electronics (+4.4%) increased for the third consecutive quarter, led by higher sales of indoor furniture (+8.6%) and telephones and home office electronics (+13.7%).

Automotive fuels, oils and additives sales fell 4.2% in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter in 2013. This was the commodity group's first quarterly decrease in five years. The bulk of the decline came from lower sales of automotive fuels (-4.5%), due in large part to lower gasoline prices. Automotive fuel sales accounted for 10.2% of total retail sales, their lowest share in four years.

  Note to readers

The Retail Commodity Survey collects data on retail sales at the national level by commodity, from a subsample of businesses participating in the Monthly Retail Trade Survey.

Quarterly data have not been adjusted for seasonality. For example, no adjustment has been made for Easter, which occurred in the first quarter of 2013 but took place in the second quarter of 2014. All percentage changes are year over year.

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