Retail executives say consumers were cautious about spending in June

While warmer weather helped bring consumers into the stores in June but they remained hesitant to splurge, according to a monthly survey of retail executives.

Retailers once again cited weaker sales as their primary concern last month, according to the monthly National Retail Federation’s Retail Executive Opinion Survey.

The survey’s Retail Sector Performance Index (RSPI) hovered above normal at 52.5, a slight decrease from the previous month’s reading of 53.6. The RSPI measures retail executives’ evaluations of monthly sales, customer traffic, the average transaction per customer, employment, inventories and a six-month-ahead sales outlook expectation. The RSPI is based on a scale of zero to 100 with 50 equaling normal.

The Current Demand Index, which measures sales, traffic, and average transaction per customer, posted a below-normal reading of 48.3, down 1.7 points from the previous month. While traffic (45) remained below normal for the month of June, it still jumped 5.7 points from the previous month, showing more consumers were heading out to the stores.

“June was a relatively average month for retailers,” said NRF president and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Warm weather and Father’s Day spending brought consumers into the stores last month and retailers are hopeful that early back-to-school promotions will keep them coming back for the remainder of the summer.”

While sales were somewhat below normal, retail operations remained steady.The Operations Index, which measures employment and inventories, posted a normal reading of 50.9, just below last month’s reading of 53.6.

Retailers are looking ahead with more confidence as the Demand Outlook rose for the third consecutive month to a reading of 58.3, up 1.3 points from the previous month.