Retailers Report Weak August as Sales Increase Just 1.1 Percent Over Last Year

Retailers’ summer started off with a bang but ended with a whimper. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for August (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) decreased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 1.1 percent unadjusted over last year.
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Washington – Retailers' summer started off with a bang but ended with a whimper. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for August (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) decreased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 1.1 percent unadjusted over last year.

August retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) decreased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month and decreased 0.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“The back-to-school season provided a slight boost to some companies,” said Rosalind Wells, NRF Chief Economist. “Unfortunately, retailers were not able to sustain the momentum they saw in the first half of the summer when families' spending was being buoyed by the rebate checks.”

Consumers looking for bargains on back-to-school merchandise headed to discount and off-price retail stores. Sales at general merchandise stores decreased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from July, but increased 4.6 percent unadjusted over last August. Electronics and appliance stores sales decreased 1.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and decreased 0.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

While sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores sales decreased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month, they increased 0.6 percent unadjusted from last year as shoppers took advantage of new fall merchandise.

As predicted in NRF's Back-to-College Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, college-aged students and their families held back on purchases of dorm or apartment type merchandise. Sales at furniture and home furnishing stores were flat from July and decreased 8.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2007 sales of $4.5 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com.

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