NRF: Retail Sales Improve In June

Retail sales rose in June, the National Retail Federation reported citing United States Census Bureau numbers, a gain that represented both a monthly increase and the first year-over-year gain since the beginning of the year as more retailers closed by the coronavirus pandemic reopened.

Overall June retail sales, excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, advanced 7.5% seasonally adjusted from May and 1.1% year-over-year. That follows an 18.2% month-over-month increase in May and marks the first time retail sales numbers have experienced a year-over-year gain since February. Retail sales gained after a record 14.7% drop in April, the first full month when most stores were closed amid the pandemic.

The Census Bureau released June sales results the day after NRF’s annual survey found consumers plan to spend a record $101.6 billion on back-to-school and back-to-college supplies this year, up from $80.7 billion last year. Families are looking to buy more laptops and other electronics in anticipation that at least some classes will take place online due to the pandemic.

June sales results by category:

  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 37.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but down 11.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 32.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but down 1.9% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 3.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but down 2.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores were up 2.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 0.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were down 1.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 11.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Online and other non-store sales were down 2.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 30.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

“The retail sales numbers from last month were very encouraging and reflect continued progress in the right direction,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “It’s clear that congressional relief packages have found their way into consumers’ pockets and are being spent by people who are happy to be back out in communities that are slowly reopening. However, recent spikes in infection rates across the country have us focused on keeping associates and their customers safe, which is the only way we can keep the economy open as we move forward.”

“June’s numbers show that retail spending is fueling the economic recovery,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “How durable the improvement in retail spending will be is directly related to how widespread the resurgence in COVID-19 cases becomes. All eyes are on the infections that are accelerating in many parts of the country, and they pose a serious threat to recovery.”