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Back-to-School Drives July Retail

Despite concerns that consumers might pull back on their spending, back-to-school shoppers hit the stores in July, driving retail industry sales up 0.3 percent from the previous month and 4 percent unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Reta

Despite concerns that consumers might pull back on their spending, back-to-school shoppers hit the stores in July, driving retail industry sales up 0.3 percent from the previous month and 4 percent unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation.

The figures were seasonally adjusted and did not include automobiles, gas stations or restaurants, according to figured released Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department.

When autos, gasoline stations and restaurants were included, total retail sales for July show an increase of 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 6.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

"July retail sales make one important point clear – it’s very hard to ignore the resilience of the American consumer,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the NRF. “Retailers' promotions hit the right chord with back-to-school shoppers last month, helping ease concerns that consumers were pulling back on spending, which so far has been a driving force in the economic recovery.”

Traditional back-to-school items performed well at retail, according to the NRF. Clothing and clothing accessories store sales increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over June with a solid 6.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sales at electronic and appliance stores increased 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted for the month, but decreased 0.7 percent unadjusted from last year.

Health and personal care stores sales increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over June and 2.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Building material and garden equipment and supplies stores sales increased 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month, with a 3.6 percent increase unadjusted year-over-year.

“In a week of stock market volatility, retail continues to be a steadying force in the economic recovery,” says Matthew Shay, NRF president and chief executive officer. “Consumers are showing that they still have spending power, and with a renewed focus on job creation we are optimistic this recovery can still get back on track.”

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