Consumer Spending - August 2010

The July retail sales report showed a continued slow pace of consumer spending.

  • According to the U.S.Census Bureau, total retail sales increased 0.4 percent in July. On a year-over-year basis, total retail sales were up 5.5 percent.
  • Core retail sales (excluding gas, autos, and building supplies) fell 0.1 percent in July. On a year-over-year basis, core retail sales remained at 4.1 percent for the second consecutive month.

Total retail sales were boosted by sales at gas stations and auto dealers in July.

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, gas station sales increased 2.3 percent in July, possibly reflecting an increase in gas prices.
  • Total retail sales were boosted from an increase in sales at auto dealers.

Districtwide, consumer spending improved compared with last year but still remains tepid.

  • Sales tax revenues in the Sixth District were up 0.4 percent in July compared with June.
  • District states collected 1 percent more sales tax than in July 2009.

Although most states have experienced an improvement over the past few months, sales tax revenue is still soft across the District.

  • Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee all noticed notably higher sales tax collections in July compared with a year earlier.
  • Although Mississippi saw a decline in revenue in July compared with last year, the rate of decline has been abating over the past several months.
  • In July, Louisiana had its best month for sales tax collections this year but was still $5 million shy of meeting its year-earlier level.

Consumer confidence in the South remained low in August.

  • According to the University of Michigan, overall consumer confidence was little changed from July to August and is far from prerecessionary levels.
  • In addition, consumer confidence in the South Census region remains low.

Overall, tourism continued to show signs of improvement compared with last year but was tempered by the unknown impact of the oil spill in the Gulf.

  • Smith Travel Research included six District cities in its list of top 25 U.S. tourist markets. Of those, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, and Orlando all had hotel occupancy rates above the national average of 67.9 in July.
  • The impact of the oil spill has affected the hospitality industry along the Gulf Coast; however, other areas in the District, such as northeast Florida, Georgia, and mountain resorts in Tennessee, have reported an increase in activity resulting from deflected business from the oil-affected areas.

Gaming tax revenues in Mississippi improved in July, rising $10.6 million from June.

District-assembled vehicle sales through July increased 30 percent over year-earlier levels, twice the nation's pace.

  • July's District-assembled vehicle sales jumped 30 percent from 2009 levels, led by rising volumes from Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes, and Nissan.
  • Hyundai-Kia sales jumped 91 percent on a year-over-year basis. One-fourth of the company's gains came from sales of the new Kia Sorento crossover.

District vehicle registrations continued to improve in June.

  • District vehicle registrations in June continued to improve from low levels reported a year earlier, rising 18 percent.
  • Nationally, new vehicle registrations were up 16 percent on a year-over-year basis.