Retail sales in August decreased by 0.2 percent from July on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to calculations released today by the National Retail Federation. On a year-over-year basis August sales showed some strength, increasing 3.7 percent unadjusted. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.
“Retail sales for August were truly a mixed bag, with monthly gains in July reversed in August,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at NRF. “The bottom line is that consumer spending is uneven but remains resilient and the key contributor to U.S. economic growth. While it is too early to assess the impact Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have had on the economy and retail sales, there’s no doubt that they will impact consumer spending – particularly in certain sectors – as Florida and Texas work to rebuild.”
Year-over-year growth was up 3.4 percent on a three-month moving average. Online and other non-store sales decreased 1.1 percent seasonally adjusted from July but increased 8 percent unadjusted year-over-year, while clothing and accessories stores decreased 1 percent seasonally adjusted from July but increased 1.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
The August numbers come as retail continues a long-term pattern of increased sales. Total retail sales have grown year-over-year every month since November 2009, and retail sales as calculated by NRF – excluding automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants— have increased year-over-year in all but one month since the beginning of 2010.