Retail Sales Sluggish in Spring
June marked the third consecutive month showing a decrease in retail sales, suggesting that Americans are wary of discretionary and nondiscretionary spending, due to continued domestic unemployment, stagnant job growth and the troubled economic climate abroad.
According to the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation, June retail sales (excluding automobile, gas stations and restaurants) decreased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from May, but increased 1.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year. This finding marks 24 consecutive months of continued retail sales growth.
“There is no doubt consumers struggled with discretionary spending last month, but many families may be looking at this as a temporary break as they save up for back-to-back shopping in July and August,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “While the retail industry remains confident in an incremental recovery, today’s statistics should concern every policymaker in Washington, and compel them to revisit burdensome regulations and job-killing tax increases set to take effect early next year.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, not since 2008 have retail sales dropped for three consecutive months. Its June 2012 retail sales report reveals the following sales activity, divided by category:
- Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 0.2 percent seasonally, adjusted month-to-month, and increased 5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 0.8 percent seasonally, adjusted month-to-month, and similarly decreased 0.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales decreased 0.8 percent seasonally, adjusted month-to-month, yet increased 8.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- General merchandise stores’ decreased 0.2 percent seasonally, adjusted month-to-month, and remained flat unadjusted year-over-year.
- Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales decreased 1.6 percent seasonally, adjusted month-to-month, yet increased 7.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“Weak economic numbers over the past few weeks have increased anxiety about the future direction of the economy,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “Today’s data is discouraging but not demoralizing. If you look at the first half of the year overall, retail sales actually increased 4.6 percent year-over-year, indicating that the economy is improving, but maybe not quick enough to impact consumer spending and job growth.”