A month-end heat wave drove up demand for seasonal goods and gave a lift to June sales at chain stores which on net are reporting a favorable monthly comparison with May. Yet not all chains are reporting strength and, in a telling indication of caution, more chains are scaling back their July-quarter guidance than raising their guidance. But the news is mostly good with chains reporting special strength in the Midwest and Northeast, where warm temperatures were centered, and reporting strength for specifically summer goods including sporting goods, summer apparel, and air conditioners.
A special factor to note is that June is a five-week fiscal month for many retailers and includes not only May's Memorial Day weekend, which is an uncertain distortion, but also the first two days in July which benefited from the heat effect. The government's report covers a simple calendar month. This aside, today's results point to another incremental gain for the ex-auto ex-gas category of the retail sales report, hopefully a gain that will more than offset what looks to be another month of weakness for motor vehicle sales.