Statistics (USA) : July Retail Sales Surprise on the Upside

Retail sales by sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores increased 1.6 percent in July over June, or twice as fast as sales by general retail establishments, according to surprisingly strong estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau that sent many retail stocks upwards.
Overall, the Commerce Department said sales rose 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted from June, breaking three consecutive months of declining sales that included a 0.7 percent drop in June. Economists had been expecting a more modest 0.3 percent increase.

Year-over-year, sales climbed 1.2 percent.
Census estimated that July sales of the category - adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes - reached $7.60 billion in July, up 10.6 percent from $6.87 billion in July 2011. Year-to-date sales through the end of July - on a non-adjusted basis - were estimated at $47.8 billion, up 7.5 percent from a year earlier.
That compared to an increase of 0.8 percent (±0.5%) in retail rade sales, which excludes motor vehicles and food service establishments, for July over June on an adjusted basis. Those sales were $359.9 billion, up 3.7 percent (±0.7%) from July 2011. Sales by nonstore retailers, which includes e-commerce sites, were up 11.8 percent (±3.1%) from July 2011.

“Halfway through the back-to-school season retailers are seeing positive signs that consumers are spending,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “However, sustained retail growth hinges on Congress’ and the administration’s ability to make smart decisions about the economy and Americans’ confidence in our long-term recovery.”

“Despite high unemployment, and political and fiscal uncertainty, consumers are spending again, albeit cautiously,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Retail sales continue to remain resilient in the face of bleak international news, with retailers on track with sustained sales growth year-over-year and year to date. Retail sales will continue to see modest growth in the fall and winter.”

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