Aug 15, 2023
NRF: Retail sales rise sharply in July

Retail sales reversed their downward trend in July as Amazon Prime Day and major promotions by other brands prompted increased shopping while wage increases gave consumers more money to spend, the National Retail Federation said.

“July retail sales show consumers continue to drive the economy through this period of economic pressure with robust spending supported by steady job growth and wage gains,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers remain focused on providing essential items at competitive prices for families and students as we approach the end of an expected record back-to-class shopping season.”

The U.S. Census Bureau today said overall retail sales in July were up 0.7% from June and up 3.2% year over year. That was double the increases seen in June, when sales were up 0.3% month over month and up 1.6% year over year.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales — which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail — showed July was up 1% seasonally adjusted from June and up 3.8% unadjusted year over year. In June, sales were up 0.3% month over month and up 3.2% year over year.

NRF’s numbers were up 3.9% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of July and up 4% for the first seven months of the year.

Sales up in 5 of 9 categories

July sales were up in five out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, health and personal care stores and general merchandise stores, and up in all but two categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 1.9% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 11.8% unadjusted year over year.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.7% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 8.3% unadjusted year over year.
  • General merchandise stores were up 0.8% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 1.6% unadjusted year over year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.8% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 1.5% unadjusted year over year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 1% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 0.9% unadjusted year over year.
  • Sporting goods stores were up 1.5% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 0.5% unadjusted year over year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 0.7% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 3.5% unadjusted year over year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 1.3% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 3.5% unadjusted year over year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 1.8% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 7.6% unadjusted year over year.

“Retail sales growth has been slowing, but July got a midsummer boost from special deal days offered by multiple retailers,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Households had a positive response, and the pace of sales was clearly helped, more than doubling the previous monthly gain. The data shows the ongoing resilience in consumer spending and how it is fueling the overall economy. It’s worth noting that the strong year-over-year gain came partly because sales accelerated this July but were decelerating at the same time last year.”




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