Next in our fine harvest of market data comes Retail Sales - the US Census Bureau report about the changes in total receipts at stores that sell durable and nondurable goods. This is another of those reports that gets the analysts all excited. The Street likes increasing sales, because that means increasing corporate revenue, which (hopefully) means increasing corporate profits. The Street also likes seeing the economy working and increasing GDP. Unless they're short the Wilshire 5000 or something crazy like that.
Anyway, May was anticipated to be soul-crushingly bad. The analysts proved to be wrong in this, because May was just mixed. Overall retails sales declined 0.2%, but increased 0.3% ex-auto. In the wake of that, the Econoday-surveyed analysts have apparently decided to work on the theory that "if you expect nothing you won't be disappointed". They're calling for a 0.0% change in overall retail sales, with a 0.1% increase in ex-auto retail sales.
So let's hit the Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services June 2011 report, and see what actually happened. And what happened is that we beat expectations, with retail sales increasing 0.1%. That deserves a "yay" for beating expectations by a tiny amount. We also beat expectations looking at the ex-auto figures, showing a 0.2% increase. Again, "yay".
I joke, obviously. It really isn't a huge amount, but it is still better than missing expectations.
Anyway, building material & garden equipment and supplies dealers had the best month, with a 1.3% increase in sales. That seems to make sense, since a) June is a good month for gardening and building and working outdoors, and b) we've got a lot of areas trying to recover from floods and tornados and wildfires that happened in May and June. You rather need building materials for that sort of thing. Furniture and home furnishings stores had the worst month, with a 0.8% decline in sales.
 Physical products. Things you can touch, handle, manipulate, eat, and so forth. There are also intangible goods, which are actually services.