According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), August retail sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants), increased just 0.1% over last month when adjusted seasonally, and 3.9% unadjusted year over year. The marginal increase was a much slower pace than had been anticipated.
“Slow growth continues to be the economic story five years after the financial crisis,” Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, said. “The economy, employment, wages, and retail sales continue to stagger along. Retailers and consumers are resilient but not overly optimistic about the broader economy. While positive retail sales growth continues month-after-month, it is just not strong enough to move the needle.”
According to the report, general merchandise stores saw sales decrease .2% as compared with last month when seasonally adjusted, but saw a slight .4% increase year over year, unadjusted. Furniture and home furnishings stores’ sales saw an increase of .9% month to month and 4.9% year over year. For non-store retailers, sales increased .5% month-to-month and 8.8% year-over-year
“Retail sales gains continue to be tepid,” Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist, said. “Retail sales and employment, while measurably positive, have been disappointing over the last few months, and have been difficult to reconcile with consumer confidence. The data suggests that consumers remain cautious with their pocketbooks and purchases. This month’s weak retail sales report will continue to put pressure on policymakers, who are dealing with tapering, and retailers, who will need to focus on price and value to entice consumer spending.”