Increase came despite cooling job market
WASHINGTON, July 18, 2023 – Retail sales continued to rise in June even as employment grew more slowly, the National Retail Federation said on Tuesday.
“June retail sales confirm that while the economy may be cooling, consumers remain on solid footing and are spending on household priorities,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Back-to-class spending is one of the most important shopping occasions of the year, and NRF’s consumer research shows that back-to-school and college spending is expected to set new records. Consumers are looking for the best value and deals, and retailers are well stocked with essential items for families and students.”
The U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday that overall retail sales in June were up 0.2% from May and up 1.5% year over year. In May, sales were up 0.5% month over month and up 2% year over year.
NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed June was up 0.4% from May and up 3.3% unadjusted year over year. In May, sales were also up 0.4% month over month and were up 4.4% year over year. NRF’s numbers were up 3.1% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of May and up 4% for the first six months of the year.
“The pace of spending is slower, but consumers are still in control of the direction of the economy thanks to the still-growing labor market and a comfortable cushion of savings,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Jobs aren’t growing as fast as they were, but employment is by no means in a slump, and if consumers have jobs, they have the willingness to spend. On average, consumer balance sheets remain sturdy and they have the wherewithal to support spending for most of the rest of the year. That’s thanks, in part, to excess savings built up during the pandemic along with easing inflation.”
June sales were up in six out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, health and personal care stores and electronics and appliances stores, and up in four categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:
- Online and other non-store sales were up 1.9% month over month, seasonally adjusted, and up 9.9% unadjusted year over year.
- Health and personal care stores were up 0.1% month over month adjusted and up 6.6% unadjusted.
- Electronics and appliance stores were up 1.1% month over month adjusted and up 1.8% unadjusted.
- General merchandise stores were down 0.1% month over month adjusted but up 1.4% unadjusted.
- Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 0.6% month over month adjusted and up 1.3% unadjusted.
- Grocery and beverage stores were down 0.7% month over month adjusted but up 1.3% unadjusted.
- Sporting goods stores were down 1% month over month adjusted and down 0.9% unadjusted.
- Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 1.4% month over month adjusted but down 3.6% unadjusted.
- Building materials and garden supply stores were down 1.2% month over month adjusted and down 3.7% unadjusted.