July Retail Sales Boost Slow Summer Start

Retail industry sales for July (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) rose a “solid” 4 percent unadjusted over last year and 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted from June, according to the National Retail Federation. NRF also revised June retail sales from 3.4 percent to 3.8 percent.

July retail sales released Monday by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from last month and 3.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. 

“Back-to-school shopping sprees and summer clearance promotions drove consumers to department and specialty stores in July,” stated NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells. “While concerns of a housing market slump and high gas prices still weigh heavily on consumers’ minds, many people still hit the stores last month, giving retailers a nice rebound from earlier this summer.”

While apparel sales were expected to remain flat this summer during the back-to-school shopping season, seasonally adjusted month-to-month sales show clothing and clothing accessories increased 1.3 percent from June and 4.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year, NRF said. 

Another bright spot was electronics and appliance stores sales, which increased 1 percent seasonally adjusted from last month and 2.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year. 

Health and personal care stores did well, increasing 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 6.3 percent unadjusted over last July. General merchandise stores sales increased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted from June and 4.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores sales increased 0.4 percent, seasonally adjusted from June, and 5.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.