While government statistics released this week show a slight decrease in retail sales in September, driven by the automobile sector, the National Retail Federation's figures, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, indicate broad sales gains in most retail sectors. According to NRF, retail sales increased a healthy .6 percent seasonally adjusted from last month, and 3.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
"Retailers witnessed a solid sales performance in September, with marked gains in all sectors, excluding clothing," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. "The American consumer remains ever cautious and value driven but continues to spend. Only time will tell if and when the government shutdown and debt ceiling debacle will impact retailers and consumers this fall and winter. The true economic impact of Washington's inability to enact policies that enhance and sustain economic growth and certainty remains to be seen."
September retail sales, released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau, showed that total retail and food services sales, which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, decreased .1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month yet increased 3.2 percent adjusted year-over-year.
"Falling gas prices combined with rising housing and stock prices continue to support consumer spending, and the broader economy," NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. "While far from robust, consumers are shopping, but they are spending both discriminately and moderately. Volatility still persists in various retail sectors but spending has somewhat stabilized heading into the all-important holiday shopping season."
Earlier this month, NRF released its holiday forecast, which indicated a 3.9 percent retail sales increase over last year, reaching $602.1 billion.
Other findings from the September retail sales report include:
- building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores' sales increased .1 percent seasonally adjusted and 8.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales decreased .5 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased .7 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- electronics and appliance stores' sales increased .7 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 1.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- furniture and home furnishing stores' sales increased .2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- general merchandise stores' sales increased .4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month yet decreased .2 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- health and personal care stores' sales increased .4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- non-store retailers' sales increased .4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 12.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year; and
- sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores' sales increased .5 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and .9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.