Washington, D.C. -- U.S. retail sales edged up 0.2% in July from June, according to figures from the Department of Commerce. This followed a 0.6% month-over-month boost in sales in June, driven by strong auto sales. The slower sales uptick reflected a drop in purchases of automobiles, along with furniture and electronics.
Core retail sales excluding auto, gasoline and building materials retailers increased 0.5% in July compared to the previous month. But gasoline sales rose 0.9%, partly resulting from higher prices, and overall retail sales would have only increased 0.1% with gasoline figures excluded.
Retail categories that performed well in July included clothing stores (up 0.9%) and grocery stores and restaurants (0.6% at each). Sales fell 1.4% at furniture stores.
“Spending has stalled and the economy is stuck in neutral,” said National Retail Federation chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Even with modest employment gains and steady consumer confidence, Americans remain in a cautiously-positive spending pattern. While clothing and sporting goods retailers saw modest gains with early back-to-school shopping, home-based retailers saw marked decreases, possibly indicating the end of the year-long housing boom.”
Findings from the July retail sales report include:
- Building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales decreased 0.4% seasonally adjusted yet increased 9.8% unadjusted year-over-year.
- Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales increased 0.9% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 5.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
- Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 0.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month yet increased 0.8% unadjusted year-over-year.
- Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales decreased 1.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
- General merchandise stores’ sales increased 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 1.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
- Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.7% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
- Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales increased 1.0% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.9% unadjusted year-over-year.
Click here to read Sterne Agee chief economist Lindsey M. Piegza's comments on the July retail sales gain.