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August retail sales increase 5 percent over last year

WASHINGTON, September 14, 2018 – August retail sales increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over July and 5 percent year-over-year as the economy continued to grow despite concerns about the growing trade war, the National Retail Federation 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 percent over the same period a year ago. The August results build on improvement seen in July, which was up 0.4 percent monthly from June and 4.9 percent 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 percent seasonally adjusted from July but up 6.6 percent year-over-year.

Specifics from key retail sectors during August include:

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