While June retail sales (excluding automobile, gas stations and restaurants) decreased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from May, they increased 1.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year, marking 24 consecutive months of sustained retail sales growth.
“Weak economic numbers over the past few weeks have increased anxiety about the future direction of the economy,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist, NRF. “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.”
The same trend could be seen in the U.S. Department of Commerce numbers for total retail and food services sales (which include non-general categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) where June decreased 0.5 percent month-to-month but increased 3.8 percent year-over-year.
High domestic unemployment, stagnant job growth and international economic unease are suspected for the stall in spending.
“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-school shopping in July and August,” says Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer, NRF. “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.”