Washington, D.C. — Retail sales in July rose 1.2 percent on a month-over-month basis, the U.S. Commerce Department reported in its advanced estimate this morning. Total sales for the month clocked in at $536 billion, up from $529.4 billion in June. The Commerce Department reported sales reached $527 billion in February, marking the first time during the pandemic that retail sales have exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Furthermore, the Commerce Department revised its May to June growth up 90 basis points to 8.4 percent. Despite the growth, the total volume of retail spending wasn’t as robust as economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected. Economists forecast a 2.3 percent increase from June. A major reason for the sales coming in lower than expected was due to auto sales falling behind. The Commerce Department reports that excluding auto sales, retail would have grown 1.9 percent.
Though the growth is slowing, the National Retail Federation (NRF) says the July figures add to the turnaround seen since the spring’s decline, namely when sales dipped 16.4 percent in April.
“Retail sales for July were another positive step in the right direction as our economy continues to slowly reopen,” says Matthew Shay, CEO and president of the NRF. “Americans are showing their continued resilience and willingness to spend in the face of this unprecedented pandemic and government actions to date have clearly supported consumers and the economy in this process. Retailers all across the country have demonstrated that their stores and supply chains can be operated safely and effectively for associates and their customers by following established guidelines and protocols.”