Retail sales advanced in September despite supply chain disruptions and inflation as worries about the COVID-19 Delta variant pushed consumer spending toward merchandise rather than services such as dining, entertainment or travel, the National Retail Federation stated.
NRF’s retail sales calculation, which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail, indicated that September gained 0.7% seasonally adjusted from August and 11% unadjusted year-over-year. The figures based on the NRF calculation compared with increases of 2.4% month-over-month and 12.2% year-over-year increase in August.
By category, NRF noted, retail sales came in as:
- Clothing and clothing accessory stores up 1.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 22.5% unadjusted year-over-year
- Electronics and appliance stores down 0.9% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 17.3% unadjusted year-over-year
- General merchandise stores up 2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 14.1% unadjusted year-over-year
- Furniture and home furnishings stores up 0.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 13.7% unadjusted year-over-year
- Sporting goods stores up 3.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 13% unadjusted year-over-year.
- Online and other non-store sales up 0.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 10.5% unadjusted year-over-year
- Grocery and beverage stores were 0.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 7.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
- Health and personal care stores down 1.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 6.9% unadjusted year-over-year
- Building materials and garden supply stores up 0.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 6.2% unadjusted year-over-year.
“Today’s retail sales data confirms the sheer power of the consumer to spend, and we expect this to continue,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in announcing the monthly sales. “Despite persistent challenges related to the global pandemic, supply chain and labor shortages, retailers and their partners have shown resilience and ingenuity in getting the workforce, goods and systems in place to serve their customers and the communities where they operate. We welcomed the chance to collaborate with the Biden administration and industry partners this week to address supply chain and labor force issues. We have seen record imports this year and are confident that collectively we can work through these challenges to ensure a healthy and happy holiday season.”
NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said,
“The reopening of the economy was interrupted by COVID-19, and consumer spending other than retail hit a speed bump toward the end of summer. Consumers remained active, but retail sales didn’t reflect as much of a shift away from goods to services as expected. That was a plus for retail because consumers still have a hyper-ability to spend thanks to wage and job gains and the household savings built up during the pandemic. In addition, some back-to-school spending may have spilled over from August into September because of school districts that delayed opening until after Labor Day. Overall, the September report is very promising for a strong finish for the year. Nonetheless, rising inflation and slower supply chains remain a concern. Spending might have been higher if not for shortages of items consumers are eager to purchase.”