Now that we have auto sales for August in and all of the weekly retail sales reports as well, let's revisit what August held for consumer spending.
Auto sales, which looked to be decent as recently as the 20th, actually came in slightly below July's level, though I will emphasize "slightly" with the change being -0.5%. Still, we have not seen much lift in car sales, which is kind of depressing given that they still are abysmally low. Chain store sales on the other hand seem to have been relatively strong following the weekly retail sales reports this month. Redbook indicates a sales pace that is a full 1.0% above July on a seasonally adjusted basis. ICSC is indicating a similar year on year growth rate of 2.8% vs Redbook's 3.0%, though no indication of whether there was an increase month to month. We'll actually get a sense of that in about ten hours or so when the retailers discuss their August sales.
Of course, home sales were fairly weak and probably didn't increase much from July from the look of things. As we have mentioned previously, the plunge in sales and high inventories (at least relative to these sale rates) will bring down prices. Whether those lower prices will bring down consumer spending with them remains to be seen.