Americans are showing “willingness to spend”

August 18, 2020 | By RetailME Bureau

Americans are showing “willingness to spend” and a continued resilience, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, stated National Retail Federation (NRF) president and CEO, Matthew Shay.

Retail sales in the US continued to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in July, growing slower than the month before, but adding to the strong turnaround seen since the “nosedive” in spring, NRF indicated.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales – excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants – showed July was up 1% seasonally adjusted from June and up 10% unadjusted year-over-year.

“Retail sales for July were another positive step in the right direction as our economy continues to slowly reopen,” said Shay. “Americans are showing willingness to spend and continued resilience and in the face of this unprecedented pandemic and government actions to date have clearly supported consumers and the economy in this process. Retailers all across the country have demonstrated that their stores and supply chains can be operated safely and effectively for associates and their customers by following established guidelines and protocols. We encourage the Congress and elected leaders at all levels of government to enact policies that support consumers and keep the economy open.”

Over half of retail categories saw month-over-month gains and three-quarters saw year-over-year increases. The biggest monthly gain came at electronics and appliance stores, which are selling more computers for home offices and online learning because of expected school closings, along with more appliances associated with home improvement spending and higher home sales.

Electronics and appliance stores were up 22.9% month-over-month, but down 2.3% year-over-year.  Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 5.7% month-over-month, but down 19.6% year-over-year. Meanwhile, health and personal care stores were up 3.6% month-over-month and up 3.1% year-over-year. Online and other non-store sales were up 0.7% month-over-month and up 25.8% year-over-year. Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.2% month-over-month, and up 12.8% year-over-year. Furniture and home furnishings stores were unchanged percent month-over-month, but up 0.5% year-over-year.

“Retail sales are starting the third quarter on a solid footing considering the nosedive we saw this spring, but we have to remember that there’s uncertainty about economic policy and that the resurgence of the virus is putting pressure on the fledgling recovery. While households are spending, they are anxious about their health and economic well-being, so they are being pragmatic. The amount of uncertainty about forecasting is huge as we look towards the second half of the year,” concluded NRF chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz.


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