NRF: Retail Stores Enjoyed Solid September

Sales at retail stores gained significantly in September, according to National Retail Federation analysis. Although government statistics demonstrated a slight decrease in retail sales across a range of sectors, the NRF numbers, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, advanced 0.6% seasonally adjusted from last month and 3.8% unadjusted year-over-year, key home furnishings and housewares sectors included.

NRF stated that:

  • Furniture and home furnishing store sales gained 0.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care store sales grew 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.6% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores’ sales advanced 0.7% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 1.8% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers store sales gained 0.1% seasonally adjusted and 8% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music store sales grew 0.5% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 0.9% unadjusted year-over-year.

Not faring quite so well, general merchandise store sales advanced 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month but decreased 0.2% unadjusted year-over-year. Also clothing and clothing accessories store sales slipped 0.5% seasonally adjusted month-to-month but increased 0.7% unadjusted year over year.

Non-store retailer sales, dominated by e-commerce operators, gained 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 12% unadjusted year over year.

“Retailers witnessed a solid sales performance in September, with marked gains in all sectors, excluding clothing,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in comments on September results. “The American consumer remains ever-cautious and value-driven but continues to spend. Only time will tell if and when the government shutdown and debt ceiling debacle will impact retailers and consumers this fall and winter. The true economic impact of Washington’s inability to enact policies that enhance and sustain economic growth and certainty remains to be seen.”

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz added, “Falling gas prices combined with rising housing and stock prices continue to support consumer spending and the broader economy. While far from robust, consumers are shopping, but they are spending both discriminately and moderately. Volatility still persists in various retail sectors, but spending has somewhat stabilized heading into the all-important holiday shopping season.”

NRF forecast 3.9% retail sales growth in the 2013 holiday season versus last year’s period, for a total of $602.1 billion.