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Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: The short-lived tax rebate boost

August 13, 2008

sale.jpgCheck out the fading influence of tax rebate checks.

Tax rebate checks helped boost June retail sales but their influence appears to have petered out by July, according to data released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday.

The figures showed that total sales at U.S. retailers declined 0.1 percent in July, which was in line with forecasts made by Wall Street economists. A big reason for the drop was a fall off in auto sales. Auto and auto parts sales fell 2.4 percent in the month, their biggest drop since April, and were off a whopping 10.5 percent from year-ago levels. 

But excluding autos, retail sales were up 0.4 percent in July. That was roughly in line with forecasts, but down from a 0.9 percent rise in June. 

Economists said before the numbers were released that spending has been supported by government stimulus checks but that the stimulus effect was waning in July because most of the checks already have been issued. Meanwhile, prices for many food items are on the rise and there was only a slight moderation in gasoline prices during the month. 

The Commerce Department said gasoline sales in July were up 0.8 percent after a 4 percent June jump. But reflecting higher prices, gasoline sales were 24.6 percent higher than in July last year. 

Excluding gasoline, retail sales in July fell 0.2 percent after a 0.1 percent June decline.

Also in the basket:

Liz Claiborne profit tops view; narrows ’08 range

Yearly import prices post biggest rise in 26 years

CVS Caremark to buy Longs in $2.54 bln deal

Best Buy to sell iPhone in the U.S.

Mechanism for Credit Is Still Stuck  (NYT)              

(Photo: Reuters)

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