US July Retail Sales Show Consumers Still Shopping Despite Inflation

Core retail sales as calculated by the National Retail Federation (NRF) rose in July even as overall sales reported by the Census Bureau remained flat on a monthly basis, and both calculations showed strong year-over-year gains as consumers kept shopping despite high inflation, NRF said.

“Retail sales grew in July, supported by declines in prices at the gas pump and moderately lower inflation,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Consumers are adapting to higher prices by prioritising essentials like food and back-to-school items, and retailers are working hard to absorb the impact of higher costs and help customers stretch their hard-earned dollars. However, policy measures like removing China tariffs, enacting smart immigration reform and investing in supply chain resiliency are needed to relieve inflationary pressure and lower costs for American families.”

“Retail sales were up considerably compared with a year ago even though consumers are more discerning in this economic environment,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Consumer spending was an encouraging signal as the economy kicked off the third quarter. Nonetheless, inflation is still disturbingly high even as it eases and is the most important challenge for consumers and retailers. The future path of inflation remains a key factor for the economy and monetary policy as the Federal Reserve works to bring price increases under control.”

The U.S. Census Bureau said overall retail sales in July were unchanged from June but up 10.3% year over year. That compared with increases of 0.8% month over month and 8.5% year over year in June. On a three-month moving average, sales were up 9.2% year over year.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed July was up 0.8% from June and up 7.1% unadjusted year over year. In June, sales were up 0.6% month over month and up 6% year over year.

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