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August Retail Sales
Increase 5% Over Last Year

Friday, September 14, 2018

August retail sales increased 0.1% seasonally adjusted over July and 5% year-over-year as the economy continued to grow despite concerns about the growing trade war, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said today. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants.

“Consumers are still in the driver’s seat,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Retail sales remain strong thanks to a solid labor market, accelerating wage growth, and consumer optimism, which helps to power the consumer spending gains we are seeing. Clearly, household spending is resilient and a contributor to third-quarter GDP growth, however, uncertainty over tariffs is creating anxiety and could fuel material changes in consumer spending.”

The three-month moving average was also up 4.9% over the same period a year ago. The August results build on improvement seen in July, which was up 0.4% monthly from June, and 4.9% year-over-year.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which released overall August sales – including automobiles, gasoline, and restaurants – were down 0.1% seasonally adjusted from July, but up 6.6% year-over-year.

Specifics from key retail sectors during August include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 9.3% year-over-year, and up .7% over August seasonally adjusted.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 6.2% year-over-year, but down 1.7% from August seasonally adjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 5.4% year-over-year, and up 0.5% from August seasonally adjusted.
  • Food and beverage stores were up 4.9% year-over-year, and zero change from August seasonally adjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were up 4.6% year-over-year, and up 0.1% from August seasonally adjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 4.1% year-over-year, and up 0.4% from August seasonally adjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 3.9% year-over-year, but down 0.3% from August seasonally adjusted.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 2.6% year-over-year, and zero change from August seasonally adjusted.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 4.0% year-over-year, and up 0.2% from August seasonally adjusted.

About NRF

The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants, and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.

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