US August Retail Sales Supported By Job, Wage Gains Amid Continued Inflation

US consumers’ willingness to spend overcame inflation again in August as more jobs and higher wages helped ease some of the pressure of continuing high prices, the National Retail Federation said. “August retail sales show consumers’ resiliency to spend on household priorities despite persistent inflation and rising interest rates,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “As we gear up for the holiday season, consumers are seeking value to make their dollars stretch. Retailers have been hard at work managing their supply chains and holiday inventories to provide consumers with great products, competitive prices and convenience at every opportunity. We are relieved and cautiously optimistic that the potentially devastating rail strike has been averted, and we appreciate the Biden administration’s intervention on behalf of businesses and consumers. We hope railway workers will accept the new terms of the proposed contract.” According to NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, “Consumers are showing their toughness, but they have limited options and cannot continue if prices do not begin to soften. This retail sales report comes amid mixed signals from the broader economy that show the headwinds against the consumer are strengthening.” The US Census Bureau said overall retail sales in August were up 0.3% from July and up 9.1% year over year. That compared with a month-over-month decline of 0.4% and a year-over-year increase of 10.1 % in July. On a three-month moving average, sales were up 9.3% year over year. NRF forecasts that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6-8% over 2021. August sales were up in all but one retail category on a yearly basis, led by building material stores, online sales and grocery stores, and increased in all but four categories on a monthly basis.

  • Online and other non-store sales were down 0.7% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 12.3% unadjusted year over year.
  • Sporting goods stores were up 0.5% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 7.1% unadjusted year over year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 0.4% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 3.7% unadjusted year over year.
  • General merchandise stores were up 0.5% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 3.2% unadjusted year over year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 1.3% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 0.1% unadjusted year over year.

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