NRF: Retail Sales Up In August

Retail sales were up 0.4% in August seasonally adjusted from July and up 4.6% unadjusted year-over-year, reported the National Retail Federation. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“While consumer attitudes about the economy indicate some retreating optimism, the bottom line is that consumer spending remained resilient in August and continued to be a key contributor to U.S. economic growth,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “Trends remain strong, but August grew somewhat slower than July, which could reflect consumers’ concerns about the unpredictability of trade policy. It is too early to assess the impact of the new tariffs that took effect at the beginning of this month, but they do present downside risks to household spending.”

As of August, the three-month moving average was up 4.1% over the same period a year ago, compared with 3.5% in July. August’s results build on gains of 0.9% month-over-month and 5.5% year-over-year in July.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said that overall August sales, including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants, were up 0.4% seasonally adjusted from July and up 4.1% unadjusted year-over-year.

Specifics from key retail sectors during August include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 14.3% year-over-year and up 1.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 4.9% year-over-year but down 0.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 2.9% year-over-year and up 0.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were up 2.2% year-over-year but down 0.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.1% year-over-year and down 0.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 2.9% year-over-year and unchanged month-over-month seasonally adjusted.