June Retail Sales Up, With a Catch

Consumer spending is up, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. But there’s a catch.

Spending for the month of June increased an estimated 0.6 percent. However, this was due largely to the increase in gas and auto purchases.

While this is the largest gain in total retail sales since January, it does not seem to indicate a long-term improvement in retail spending, said Rosalind Wells, chief economist of the Washington-based National Retail Federation, in a statement. “Although several economic indicators are starting to show signs of improvement, it is going to take a few more months -- maybe longer -- for people to feel comfortable spending again. High unemployment and other uncertainties will continue to impact consumer spending through the remainder of this quarter.”

Retail performance varied across different sectors, compared with May. On the upside, electronics and appliance stores sales grew 0.9 percent compared with last month, according to the Commerce Department. Grocery as well as other food and beverage channels saw an increase of 0.2 percent.

Health and personal care stores were down 0.3 percent, while clothing and clothing accessory stores remained flat month-over-month.

Despite the modest growth, even sectors with positive monthly sales statistics saw year-over-year declines. While grocery stores decreased only 0.7 percent, electronic and appliance store sales were down 11.5 percent.

Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 6.2 percent compared to the previous year. One of the few businesses to show an increase compared to June 2008 was that of health and personal care retailers, which saw an increase of 1.8 percent.

- Nielsen Business Media
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