Skip to main content

Core retail sales inch up in September

retailer employee helping customer
Core retail sales in September rose 0.3% from August.

Core retail sales remained solid on a monthly basis in September and saw another year-over-year gain despite an interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve and continuing inflation.

Retail sales in September rose 0.3% from August and were up 7.2% year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation, whose calculation excludes auto dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. In August, sales were also up 0.3% month-over-month and up 8.5% year-over-year.

“Ongoing inflation still hasn’t materially slowed down consumer spending, evidenced by September retail sales excluding auto and gas,” commented David Silverman, senior director, Fitch Ratings.

Overall retail sales in September were unchanged from August but up 8.2% year over year, reported the U.S. Census Bureau, matching the rise in the consumer price index. That compared with increases of 0.4% month over month and 9.4% year over year in August.  

“Consumer demand remained intact during September and continues to be a key contributor to economic activity,” stated NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “But sales were uneven across retail categories and inflation is the main factor that is determining how much shoppers are willing to spend. Shoppers are looking for bargains and value in the current economic environment and even more so as we head into the holiday season.”

Fitch’s Silverman expects elevated promotional activity through the holidays, given the high levels of inventory, particularly in seasonal categories like apparel.

“Greater and deeper promotions could somewhat mitigate the actual and psychological impact of inflation on shoppers, driving customers to make purchases and helping retailers to clear inventory,” he said.

Sales in September were up 7.2% year-over-year for the first nine months of the year, keeping results on track with NRF’s forecast that 2022 sales will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021.

September sales increased in five out of nine retail categories on a monthly basis. They rose in all but one category (electronics and appliance stores) on a yearly basis, led by online sales, building materials stores and grocery stores.

Specifics from key sectors for September month-over-month sales are below:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 0.5%.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.4%.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.4%.
  • General merchandise stores were up 0.7%.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 0.7%.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.5%.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 0.5%.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.7%.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 0.8%.
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds