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NRF: August sales increased 0.5%, fueled by strong back-to-school finish


Washington, D.C. -- August retail sales – excluding automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants – increased 0.5% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 2.7% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation. When combined with revisions to July, August sales indicate a consistent improvement in consumer confidence and spending.

The rise in consumer confidence, labor markets and retail sales is encouraging,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “August sales figures signal that consumers are willing and ready to spend as the economy improves. However, until the pace of income picks up, we should not expect a sustained surge in spending."

All retail categories improved over the previous month with the exception of general merchandise stores. Even though year-over-year sales slowed from 4.2 to 2.6%, “by-and-large merchants had a strong finish to the back-to-school season, especially those selling clothing and electronics,” Kleinhenz said.

“My overall impression is that the economy is moving in the right direction but that other factors, including rising concerns over the uncertainty in the Middle East, may produce some drag,” he added. “We remain hopeful but cautious.”

Additional findings from NRF’s retail sales analysis include:

Building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers:

• +1.4% month-to-month

• +3.3% year-over-year

Clothing & clothing accessories stores:

• +0.3% month-to-month

• +1.0% year-over-year

Electronics & appliance stores:

• +0.7% month-to-month

• +0.5% year-over-year

Furniture & home furnishing stores:

• +0.7% month-to-month

• +0.7% year-over-year

General merchandise stores:

• -0.1% month-to-month

• +1.8% year-over-year

Health & personal care stores:

• +0.6% month-to-month

• +6.4% year-over-year

Nonstore (online) retailers:

• +0.1% month-to-month

• +4.2% year-over-year

Sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores:

• +0.9% month-to-month

• -4.1% year-over-year

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