Retail Sales Hold Steady in July

Retail sales (excluding automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants) held steady in July, essentially unchanged over June, the National Retail Federation said today. On a year-over-year basis, however, retail sales saw an increase of 1.7 percent, according to NRF’s calculations. 

"July’s flat performance is transitory and does not signal a slowdown."

Jack Kleinhenz
NRF Chief Economist

“While today’s release is weaker than expected, recent job and income gains support the notion that consumers do have the ability to spend, and I suspect that July’s flat performance is transitory and does not signal a slowdown. July’s spending remained at June’s strong level, even though consumers appear to have taken a breather,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Retailers continue to suffer from weak pricing, which could in part also explain today’s flat figure.”

Most retail segments, including sporting goods, general merchandise and building materials, saw reduced spending, while online and other non-store sales saw an increase of 1.3 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and 10.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

In July, the three-month moving average of retail sales on a year-over-year basis increased 3.3 percent unadjusted.

A few specifics from the report include:

  • Online and other non-store sales increased 1.3 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and 10.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at clothing and accessories stores decreased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over June and decreased 1.3 percent unadjusted over last year.
  • Sales at general merchandise stores decreased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 0.5 percent year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliances stores’ sales decreased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and decreased 4.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores’ sales increased 0.2 percent over the previous month and increased 2.3 percent unadjusted over last year.
  • Sales at building materials and supplies stores decreased 0.5 percent over the previous month and increased 1.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores’ sales decreased 2.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 1.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.  
  • Sales at health and personal care stores increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 4.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.