Retail sales rebounded in August despite a sluggish economy

Despite persistent inflation and higher interest rates, retail sales rose in August as parents bought school supplies and other items, the National Retail Federation said today.

„August retail sales show that consumers remain resilient in the face of persistent inflation and high interest rates,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. „Consumers are focusing on household priorities, which is evident by spending the back-to-school season. As we enter the fall, we expect moderate growth to continue despite uncertainties such as inflation and interest rates and a possible government shutdown.”

„NRF’s numbers show the pace of retail growth has cooled since July, but consumers are still active, albeit selective and price-sensitive,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. „Households have the ability to spend, but the pace is slowing, as savings built up during the pandemic run low and borrowing costs rise. Consumer spending growth has slowed but there is little sign of a sharp decline.

The US Census Bureau Today overall retail sales in August rose 0.6% from July and 2.5% year-on-year. This compares with an increase of 0.5% month-on-month and 2.6% year-on-year in July.

The NRF’s calculation of retail sales — which excludes automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants and focuses on core retail sales — was a seasonally adjusted 0.1% from August to July and an unadjusted 3.3% for the year. In July, sales were up 0.7% month-over-month and 3.3% year-on-year.

The NRF’s numbers were an unadjusted 3.2% year-on-year in the three-month moving average through August and an increase of 3.8% in the first eight months of the year.

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August sales increased in five of the nine retail categories year-on-year, led by health and personal care stores, online sales and apparel and accessories, and sales in all but two categories on a monthly basis. The specifications from the main sectors are as follows:

  • Health and personal care stores rose 0.5% over the month on a seasonally adjusted basis and 7.8% year over year on an unadjusted basis.
  • Online and other non-store sales were unchanged month-over-month, seasonally adjusted, but unadjusted 7.6% year-over-year.
  • Clothing and apparel accessory stores rose a seasonally adjusted 0.9% month-on-month and an unadjusted 3.6% year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores rose 0.3% for the month, seasonally adjusted and 3% unadjusted for the year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores rose 0.4% over the month on a seasonally adjusted basis and 2.8% year over year on an unadjusted basis.
  • Electronics and appliance stores rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7% month-over-month but unadjusted 1.6% year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores fell 1.6% for the month.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores rose 0.1% for the month, but were uncorrected for the year at 3.8%.
  • Furniture and home appliance stores were down 1% seasonally adjusted for the month and unadjusted for the year by 7.6%.

As the leading authority and voice for the retail industry, NRF provides data on retail sales each month, and also forecasts annual retail sales and spending for key periods such as the holiday season each year.

About the NRF

The National Retail Federation passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail succeed. From its headquarters in Washington, DC, the NRF promotes industry that improves the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, contributing $3.9 trillion to annual gross domestic product and supporting one in four American jobs – 52 million working Americans. For more than a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail business, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.

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