By Mark Pender

NEW YORK (MNI) – MNI’s U.S. retail trade index fell nearly six
points to 54.1 in the Aug. 7 period reflecting slowing trends and less
optimistic guidance for the second half of the year, according to the
results of Market News International’s weekly survey released Monday.

Current sales rates, at +3.7% year-on-year for total sales and
+2.0% for same-store sales, point to disappointment for Friday’s retail
sales report from the Commerce Department.

This sample is pointing to a no change headline for total sales, at
$360.2 billion, and to -0.5% prints for both ex-auto, at $297.8 billion,
and ex-auto and ex-gas, at $263.3 billion.

A decline for ex-auto would be a third in a row while a decline for
ex-auto ex-gas would be a second straight decline that would further put
into question the U.S. consumer’s participation in the economic

Wall Street expectations, which have been under-estimating weakness
in the retail sector, are looking a 0.5% rise in total sales, to $362.0
billion, and a 0.2% rise in ex-auto to $299.8 billion. Wall Street
doesn’t estimate ex-auto ex-gas.

Income for MNI’s sample has been slowing, currently at a
year-on-year +10% for the softest reading since May. Sample size is 182
chains consisting of 147,000 separate retail locations.

Editor’s Note: MNI compiles its retail trade index based on a
weekly sample of company news and data.

** Market News International New York Newsroom: 212-669-6430 **