July retail sales see gains, notes Commerce and NRF

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United States retail sales saw modest July gains, according to data respectively issued today by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau and the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Commerce reported that July retail sales, at $696.4 billion, were up 0.7%, from June to July, and up 3.2% annually. Total retail sales, from May through July, saw a 2.3% annual increase, it noted.

Retail trade sales increased 0.6%, from June to July, and were up 2.0% annually. Non-store retailers, which includes e-commerce, were up 10.3% annually, and food services and drinking places were up 11.9% annually.

NRF reported that July retail sales, which does not include automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants, rose 1% on a seasonally-adjusted basis over June and increased 3.8% annually on an unadjusted basis. And it added that based on NRF’s numbers, retail sales were up 3.9% on an unadjusted basis on a three-month moving average through July and were up 4% annually through the first seven months of 2023.

“Retail sales growth has been slowing, but July got a midsummer boost from special deal days offered by multiple retailers,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. “Households had a positive response, and the pace of sales was clearly helped, more than doubling the previous monthly gain. The data shows the ongoing resilience in consumer spending and how it is fueling the overall economy. It’s worth noting that the strong year-over-year gain came partly because sales accelerated this July but were decelerating at the same time last year.”

In the NRF’s recently-issued Monthly Economic Report, Kleinhenz observed that even though U.S. consumers are buying more than they were a year ago at this time, growth in spending is slowing down, as does the economy amid the aforementioned higher interest rates focused on lowering inflation.

“The economy was clearly more resilient in the first half of this year than many expected, and the consumer environment has been positive as inflation has slowed,” Kleinhenz observed. “Nonetheless, there are ongoing economic challenges and questions, and the pace of consumer spending growth is becoming incrementally slower. Consumers are still spending but are under financial pressure and have been adjusting how much they buy while also shifting from goods to services. While job and wage gains have counterbalanced inflation, the stockpile of savings accumulated during the pandemic is dwindling and is no longer providing as much spending power as previously available.”

NRF data pointed to July retail sales gains in five of the nine retail sectors it tracks, including:

-Online and other non-store sales were up 1.9% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 11.8% unadjusted year over year;
-Health and personal care stores were up 0.7% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 8.3% unadjusted year over year;
-General merchandise stores were up 0.8% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 1.6% unadjusted year over year;
-Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.8% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 1.5% unadjusted year over year;
-Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 1% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 0.9% unadjusted year over year;
-Sporting goods stores were up 1.5% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 0.5% unadjusted year over year;
-Building materials and garden supply stores were up 0.7% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 3.5% unadjusted year over year;
-Electronics and appliance stores were down 1.3% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 3.5% unadjusted year over year; and
-Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 1.8% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 7.6% unadjusted year over year

Naveen Jaggi, President Retail Advisory Services, for industrial real estate firm JLL, wrote in a research note that with inflation growth softening and consecutive months of growing sales, JLL expected a moderate sales growth in July, particularly as the Back-to-School Shopping season wraps up.

July’s retail sales numbers were boosted by a 1.9% jump in spending at online retailers; a 1.4% increase for food services and drinking places; and a 1.5% jump in sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores,” Jaggi noted. “With retail foot traffic relatively healthy in July, some categories like theater and attractions continued to see double-digit growth from the previous month. According to Placer.ai, foot traffic for theaters and music venues rose 29.5% last month. This is no surprise considering movies like Barbie and Oppenheimer were both released in July. After a tough stretch for movie theaters during the pandemic, consumers are returning to the big screen because there are options that interest all ages and they feel comfortable returning to the movies. As we expected last month, consumers continue to spend on clothing, restaurants, sporting goods and more, showing they are resilient despite inflation rates.”


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Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
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Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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