Department of Commerce and NRF report August retail sales gains


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Retail sales data, for the month of August, which were issued today by the United States Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation (NRF) posted annual gains.

Commerce reported that total August retail sales—at $537.5 billion—eked out a 0.6% increase over July and were up 2.6% annually. And it added that total retail sales, from June through August rose 2.4% compared to the same period in 2019.

Looking at some key retail segments, Commerce reported that retail trade sales saw a 0.1% gain, from July to August, and 5.1% annually. And non-store retail, which includes e-commerce, saw a 22.4% annual gain, buoyed by increased e-commerce activity over the course of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while clothing and clothing accessories stores dropped 20.4% annually.

The NRF reported that August retail sales continued to recover from the pandemic, with its sales numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants, pointed to a 0.1% seasonally-adjusted gain, from July to August, and were up 5.6% on an unadjusted basis annually. This followed a 0.6% increase from June to July and a 9.6% annual July increase. And on an unadjusted three-month moving average, through August, retail sales are up 8.5% annually.

“August was topsy-turvy as COVID-19 brought a lot of shifts and uncertainty regarding back-to-school spending and other issues but consumer spending remains intact even if sales grew less than July,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. “Retail spending habits have remained largely consistent and stable these past few months since stores began to reopen. Some consumers likely reduced their spending with the end of the $600 supplemental unemployment benefits for those out of work, but a building-up of savings from that and other government cash helped support spending. At this juncture, it is difficult to sort out how much economic activity is due to government support and how much is evidence of hardcore demand due to recent job gains. August numbers might have been higher if not for small businesses struggling with reopening and the return to full operations.”

NRF reported that slightly more than half of the retail categories it tracks saw annual gains, including: 
-Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 2.9%-over-month seasonally adjusted but down 23.5% unadjusted year-over-year;
-Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 2.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 0.4% unadjusted year-over-year;
-Building materials and garden supply stores were up 2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 11.9% unadjusted year-over-year;
-Electronics and appliance stores were up 0.8% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but down 3.4% unadjusted year-over-year;
-Online and other non-store sales were unchanged month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 20.1% unadjusted year-over-year;
-Health and personal care stores were up 0.8% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 3.3% unadjusted year-over-year;
-General merchandise stores were down 0.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and down 0.2% unadjusted year-over-year;
-Grocery and beverage stores were down 1.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 8.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year; and
-Sporting goods stores were down 5.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 8% unadjusted year-over-year

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2020-09-16 09:21:00


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