Retail Sales Flat Month-Over-Month But Show Yearly Growth

Figures from the Census Bureau show little growth from June to July, with NRF's figures highlighting a moderate increase.
Greg Sleter
Associate Publisher/Executive Editor
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Retail sales growth from June to July was flat, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, but year-over-year sales were up more than 10%. Core retail sales as calculated by the National Retail Federation showed an increase. 

The U.S. Census Bureau reported overall retail sales in July were unchanged from June but up 10.3% year over year. On a three-month moving average, sales were up 9.2 percent year over year.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed July was up 0.8% from June and up 7.1% unadjusted year over year.  

“Retail sales grew in July, supported by declines in prices at the gas pump and moderately lower inflation,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “Consumers are adapting to higher prices by prioritizing essentials like food and back-to-school items, and retailers are working hard to absorb the impact of higher costs and help customers stretch their hard-earned dollars.”

Shay said policy measures such as removing China tariffs, enacting smart immigration reform and investing in supply chain resiliency are needed to relieve inflationary pressure and lower costs for American families.

Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist with the NRF said consumer spending was an encouraging signal as the economy kicked off the third quarter.  

Nonetheless, inflation is still disturbingly high even as it eases and is the most important challenge for consumers and retailers,” he said. “The future path of inflation remains a key factor for the economy and monetary policy as the Federal Reserve works to bring price increases under control.”

July sales were up in all but three retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, building material stores and grocery stores, and increased in all but two categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 2.7% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 18.1% unadjusted year over year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 1.5% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 6.2% unadjusted year over year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.2% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 7.7% unadjusted year over year.
  • Sporting goods stores were up 0.1% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 3% unadjusted year over year.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.4% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 1.5% unadjusted year over year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 0.6% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 0.2% unadjusted year over year.
  • General merchandise stores were down 0.7% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 0.1% unadjusted year over year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 0.2%month over month seasonally adjusted but down 0.3% unadjusted year over year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 0.4% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 11.3% unadjusted year over year.