Retail sales unexpectedly increased last month despite continued challenges facing the economy as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Sales ticked up 0.7% in August relative to July and totaled $618.7 billion, according to a Census Bureau report published Thursday. E-commerce, furniture, general merchandise, building materials and energy purchases drove last month’s sales increase.
Dow Jones economists had expected sales to decline 0.8%, CNBC reported. In July retail sales posted a sharp 1.8% decline as coronavirus cases surged, the Census report said Thursday.
Retail sales in the U.S. declined in July as the number of coronavirus cases spiked, localities renewed some restrictions and businesses delayed their return to in-person work.
Sales dropped 1.1% in July compared to June and totaled $617.7 billion, according to the Census Bureau report released Tuesday. The decrease was driven mainly by declining used and new car sales, clothing purchases, building materials sales, sports goods sales and furniture purchases.
Economists expected retail sales to fall 0.3%, a relatively modest drop compared to the actual decline, CNBC reported. All major stock market indices declined between 0.5% and 0.8% on Tuesday morning following the worse-than-expected report.
U.S. retail sales jumped in June, boosted by states widely loosening coronavirus restrictions and businesses returning to full capacity.
Retail sales increased 0.6% and totaled $621.3 billion in June, according to the Department of Commerce report released Wednesday. The monthly increase was driven by general merchandise, including food service, clothing, personal care, electronics and gasoline sales, the report showed.
“Sectors that were buoyed by the pandemic are slowing down a little bit, but not to a degree that I’d be concerned about,” Square economist Felipe Chacon told The Wall Street Journal. “Household finances have been bolstered by a few rounds of stimulus spending, so it bodes pretty well.”
Retail sales in the U.S. could rise between 6.5% and 8.2% to more than $4.3 trillion this year as more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and the economy reopens, according to the National Retail Federation.
NRF president Matthew Shay said the economy is expected to see its fastest growth in over two decades.
The U.S. retail sales were much higher than economists projected in January, ending a multi-month streak of underperformance, according to the Commerce Department.
Retail sales increased 5.3% and totaled $568.2 billion in January, according to the Department of Commerce report released Wednesday. Economists had predicted retail sales to increase by 1.2%, The New York Times reported.
Retail sales rebounded in May as states eased coronavirus-induced lockdown measures, allowing retail stores to regain more ground than analysts expected, according to Department of Commerce data.
Retail sales jumped 17.7% in May, effectively doubling expectations and marking the biggest single-month gain in records going back more than 20 years, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. A Bloomberg News survey of economists had anticipated 8.4% increase in retail sales in May as COVID-19-related measures melted away following a 14% decline in April.
Ohio shoppers are expected to increase holiday spending by 3.2 percent more than last year, as consumer confidence continues to soar, according to a forecast by University of Cincinnati economists. Jobs, wages, housing prices and other key indicators are all on the uptick, forecasters said. They project retail spending to…