Retail is on a roller-coaster ride this year, dipping up and down precipitously—but generally safely!—with some real velocity.
Last month at least, the industry ticked upward. The National Retail Federation (NRF) revealed last week that retail sales were up 0.6% in June, seasonally adjusted from May, and up 2.3% unadjusted year-over-year. (The stats exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants.)
According to the NRF, as of June, the three-month moving average was up 3.7% over the same period a year ago, compared with 3.3% in May. June’s results build on gains of 0.4% month-over-month and 2.9% year-over-year seen in May.
Here were the winning and losing sectors in June:
++ Online and other non-store sales were up 11.6% year-over-year and up 1.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
++ General merchandise stores were up 2.3% year-over-year and up 0.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
++ Grocery and beverage stores were up 2.1% year-over-year and up 0.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
++ Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 1.6% year-over-year but up 0.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
++ Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 1.7% year-over-year but up 0.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
++ Building materials and garden supply stores were down 4.7% year-over-year but up 0.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
++ Sporting goods stores were down 5.3% year-over-year and unchanged month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
++ Electronics and appliance stores were down 5.8% year-over-year and down 0.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
The NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau that concluded that overall June sales—including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants—were up 0.4% seasonally adjusted from May and up 3.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
NRF chief economic officer Jack Kleinhenz said in a prepared statement that the month’s results showed that the consumer “remains engaged and that consumer spending gave a boost to the economy in the second quarter.” He added, “The numbers are consistent with elevated consumer sentiment, healthy household balance sheets, low inflation, and wage and job gains. The year-over-year growth is particularly significant given that it comes on top of strong gains at this time last year.”
But the fallout from certain realities—including the ongoing China-U.S. trade war and tariffs and a slowing housing market—may soon take its toll on retail spending. And Kleinhenz noted, “While the prospect of tariff increases has subsided for the moment, trade uncertainties continue to weigh on the long-term outlook.”
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