Retail Sales Lag in June

       

       

WASHINGTON-June sales by U.S. retailers fell back 0.5 percent from their May levels, to $401.5 billion on an adjusted basis, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly retail sales report.

While they were weaker than the prior month, retail sales in June did pick up 3.8 percent over June of last year. Commenting on the June results, the National Retail Federation attributed the slowdown (June was the third straight month of month-over-month declines) to consumers avoiding both discretionary and non-discretionary spending in the wake of persistently high unemployment, stagnant job growth and troubles in international markets.

“There is no doubt consumers struggled with discretionary spending last month,” said Matthew Shay, NRF’s president and CEO, “but many families may be looking at this as a temporary break as they save up for back-to-school shopping in July and August.”

June sales at furniture and home furnishings stores fell 0.8 percent from May but were up 7.8 percent over June 2011. General merchandise stores’ sales slipped 0.2 percent from May and were down 0.8 percent from June of last year. Sales at department stores (excluding leased departments) dropped 0.7 percent from May and 3.2 percent from June of last year.

Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist, described this morning’s report as “discouraging, but not demoralizing. If you look at the first half of the year overall, retail sales actually increased 4.6 percent year over year, indicating that the economy is improving but maybe not be quick enough to impact consumer spending and job growth.”