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Retail sales edge up in July

Washington D.C. - Back-to-school season did much to trigger sales for categories like clothing and sporting goods, but did not make the grade for home-related businesses, which slipped in July compared to June.

The National Retail Federation found July retail sales - excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants - increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted from June and increased 5.0% unadjusted year-over-year.

Sales at furniture and home furnishing stores' sales decreased 1.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month but rose 5.1% unadjusted year-over-year.

"Consumers continue to grind forward in July, marking 13 consecutive months of retail sales gains," said Matthew Shay, NRF president and ceo. "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."

July retail sales, released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, showed that total retail and food services sales - which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants - increased 0.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 5.4% adjusted year-over-year.

"Spending has stalled and the economy is stuck in neutral," said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. "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."

Other findings from the July retail sales report include:

  • Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores' sales decreased 0.4% seasonally-adjusted yet increased 9.8% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales increased 0.9% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 5.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores' sales decreased 0.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 0.8% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores' sales increased 0.4% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 1.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores' sales increased 0.7% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Nonstore retailers' sales increased 0.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 11.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores' sales increased 1.0% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.9% unadjusted year-over-year.

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