Retail Sales Growth Remains Tepid, Up 0.1% in August


Retail sales increased in the month of August but came in at a much slower pace than anticipated. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) – the world’s largest retail trade association – August retail sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted from last month, and increased 3.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“Slow growth continues to be the economic story five years after the financial crisis,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “The economy, employment, wages, and retail sales continue to stagger along. Retailers and consumers are resilient but not overly optimistic about the broader economy. While positive retail sales growth continues month-after-month, it is just not strong enough to move the needle.”

August retail sales, released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, showed that total retail and food services sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 4.7 percent adjusted year-over-year.

“Retail sales gains continue to be tepid,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Retail sales and employment, while measurably positive, have been disappointing over the last few months, and have been difficult to reconcile with consumer confidence. The data suggests that consumers remain cautious with their pocketbooks and purchases. This month’s weak retail sales report will continue to put pressure on policymakers, who are dealing with tapering, and retailers, who will need to focus on price and value to entice consumer spending.”

Other findings from the August retail sales report include:

• Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales decreased 0.9 percent seasonally-adjusted yet increased 5.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales decreased 0.8 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Electronics and appliance stores’ sales increased 0.8 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 0.9 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 4.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• General merchandise stores’ sales decreased 0.2 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 0.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.6 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Nonstore retailers’ sales increased 0.5 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 8.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales decreased 0.5 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 3.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Source: National Retail Federation