Report: Total U.S. retail sales for July up 8.7% year-over-year

Purchase, N.Y. -- A report released Thursday by MasterCard Advisors said that total retail sales in July sustained momentum despite inconsistencies in other areas of the economy.

According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks national retail and service sales, excluding auto sales retail sales in July 2011 grew by 8.7% year-over-year. 

Retail sales are on par with the average growth of the previous three months.

“Since March, non seasonally-adjusted retail sales have topped 8% year-over-year,” said Michael McNamara, VP research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. “However, much of the 8.7% growth is from commodity-based inflation in areas such as gasoline, food and cotton prices.”

McNamara cautioned that, while the headline year-over-year increase resembles periods of strong economic growth, “when you take a closer look at the comp environment and the year-over-year inflation, it tempers the enthusiasm that would normally accompany this level of year-over-year increase,” he said.

Sectors showing positive results in July included e-commerce, luxury, apparel, groceries and travel. E-commerce posted double digit growth for the ninth consecutive month, with the unusually hot weather this July perhaps pushing consumers to e-commerce in greater numbers. Luxury posted its 10th consecutive month of positive year over year growth. In July there was the first double digit growth since April 2010. Weaker segments included furniture and furnishings, automotive repair, and electronics and appliances. Furniture and furnishings were negative year over year for the sixth consecutive month, likely due to their ties with the struggling housing sector. In addition, automotive repair and maintenance went into the negative for the first time since January 2011.

Retail Spending posted positive growth in every part of the country, with the best unadjusted year-over-year results in the Pacific and South central regions, respectively posting 11.0% and 11.9% growth.


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