Retail Sales Edge Up in July

NRFWASHINGTON-U.S. retail sales reached $424.5 billion in July, an increase of 0.2 percent over June and 5.4 percent over July 2012—in a month that saw “marked decreases” among home-based retailers, according to the National Retail Federation.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly numbers, sales at furniture and home furnishings stores fell back 1.4 percent from June, although they increased 2.9 percent year over year. Among the other channels that sell home products, sales at general merchandise stores were up 0.4 percent from June and 1.1 percent from last July. Sales at department stores (excluding leased departments) rose 0.6 percent from month to month, but declined 4.8 percent from last year.

NRF noted that home categories such as building materials and furniture experienced “surprising declines” in July. Still, according to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, July marked the 13th straight month of overall retail sales gains, as consumers continued to “grind forward,” Shay said.

NRF’s chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz, said the July results were a sign of an economy that is “stuck in neutral. Even with modest employment gains and steady consumer confidence, Americans remain in a cautiously positive spending pattern.” Kleinhenz added that the declines among the home retailers may indicate “the end of the year-long housing boom.”