Retail Sales Rise 5% in August

Retailers were still able to post modest gains for August retail sales, ending the pivotal back-to-school season with some momentum heading into the holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.

Retail industry sales for August (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) rose 5 percent unadjusted over the prior year. Seasonally adjusted sales from last month were flat.

August retail sales released by the U.S. Department of Commerce show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted from last month and 4.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“High demand foriPods, cell phones, and laptops as well as new school clothes and college furnishings helped retailers bring a solid end to the back-to-school season,” said NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells. “However, unfavorable credit and housing market conditions will force retailers to work extra hard to get consumers’ attention in the next few months as they begin the ever-important holiday season.”

The big winners were sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, where sales increased an impressive 8.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year and a 0.3 percent increase from last month.

Thanks to growing demand from college students, home furnishings stores got a boost in August with sales increasing 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted from July and 2.8 percent unadjusted over last August.

Electronics stores sales increased as well with a 0.4 percent increase seasonally adjusted from July and 3.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
 
Clothing and clothing accessories stores saw strong year-over-year gains, posting a 7.1 percent increase unadjusted from last year, but decreasing 0.1 percent from July. Health and personal care stores increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from July and 6.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.