Business, Economics and Jobs

US retail sales fall in June for third straight month


A woman carries a shopping bag in New York City on April 16, 2012.


Justin Sullivan

US retail sales fell for the third straight month in June – the first three-month losing streak since the height of the 2008 financial crisis – dimming the outlook for the world’s largest economy.

The US Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.5 percent in June from May as consumers cut back on spending on autos, furniture, appliances, building materials, garden supplies and other goods, the Associated Press reported.

Shares fell in response to the disappointing data. Economists had expected a slight increase of 0.2 percent.

"However hard you look, there's just no good news in this report at all," said Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics.

Consumer spending is a key pillar of growth in the United States, accounting for about 70 percent of the economy.

The weak data prompted some economists to downgrade their second-quarter growth forecasts to near one percent, half of the annual pace recorded in the first three months of the year, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Consumers have cut back on spending in response to the gloomy economic situation – the US jobs market is sluggish, there is no end in sight to the European debt crisis and China – once considered the potential white knight for the global economy – is slowing down.  

More from GlobalPost: China economy: What's the big deal about 8 percent GDP?

The data is bad news for President Barack Obama, who is seeking re-election in November. The economy is the key issue for voters tired of seeing the unemployment rate stuck above eight percent and, as the BBC points out, three years after he promised things would get better, growth remains weak.