Census Bureau: August Retail Sales Slow From July

In its estimate for August, the United States Census Bureau has reported that retail trade sales were up 1.4% from the 2015 month but were down 0.5% from July of this year.

Overall, U.S. retail and food service sales gained 1.9% over August 2015, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but slipped 0.3% from July.

Sales for nonstore retailers were up 10.9% from August 2015 but down 0.3% from July while those for general merchandise stores slid 0.7% in August year over year but were flat from July. Under general merchandise stores, the department store segment was down 5% from August of last year and down 0.6% from July.

In other retail categories, the Census Bureau indicated that August results included:

  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 1.6% year over year, and down 0.7% from July.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 3.1% year over year, and up 0.1% from July.
  • Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 2.2% year over year, and down 1.4% from July.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 7.8% year over year, and down 0.1% from July.
  • Clothing and clothing accessories were down 0.3% year over year, and up 0.7% from July.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music were stores up 1.1% year over year, and down 1.4% from July.
  • Miscellaneous stores were down 0.4% year over year, and down 2.4% from July.

In response to the Census Bureau numbers, National Retail Federation chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said, “The pattern of summer slowing was evident last year, and that is what we’re seeing again this year. Despite this drop off, other indicators suggest that this is a temporary dip and that consumers will remain a driving force in the U.S. economy. Last month’s data may also reflect a drag from ongoing retail price declines that have affected the industry for several years. Rising incomes and steady employment gains should provide the fuel for spending as we look ahead to the holiday season.”