July Retail Sales See A Bright Spot With 0.2% Increase From Last Month

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that retail sales increased 0.2 percent in July from June, according to the Associated Press. Sales had risen 0.6 percent in June from May on a surge in auto sales.

“Core” retail sales, which exclude the volatile auto, gas and building supply categories, rose 0.5 percent in July. It was the biggest such gain since a similar increase in December.

According to the report, clothing and clothing accessories stores saw a %0.7 sales increase for July compared to July 2012, while sales in the sporting goods market jumped 2.9% compared to the same period last year.

The National Retail Federation described the results as a mixed bag for retailers, as sales grew in many back-to-school categories like clothing and sporting goods, while declining in home-based categories, including building materials and furniture stores. 

“Consumers continue to grind forward in July, marking 13 consecutive months of retail sales gains,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “However consumers alone can’t be expected to shoulder the burden of the economy. Fiscal and monetary policy uncertainties combined with stagnant economic and employment conditions continue to breed a volatile market with extreme swings in consumer spending. The economy can’t seem to maintain any amount of momentum. We just can’t seem to pull ourselves up.”

Total retail and food services sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 5.4 percent adjusted year-over-year.

“Spending has stalled and the economy is stuck in neutral,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Even with modest employment gains and steady consumer confidence, Americans remain in a cautiously-positive spending pattern. While clothing and sporting goods retailers saw modest gains with early back-to-school shopping, home-based retailers saw marked decreases, possibly indicating the end of the year-long housing boom. This month’s retail sales report will make any decision on tapering that much harder for policymakers in D.C.” 

Other findings from the July retail sales report include:

Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales decreased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted yet increased 9.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 0.9 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 5.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 0.1 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 0.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales decreased 1.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

General merchandise stores’ sales increased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 1.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.7 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Nonstore retailers’ sales increased 0.1 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 11.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.