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NRF: Retail sales keep rising in September, but ...

Money in wallet
Retail sales rose in September.

Continuing economic pressures did not prevent retail sales from rising month-over-month in September, but year-over-year gains are beginning to slow.

Core retail sales rose 0.5% in September, according to the National Retail Federation, whose calculation excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. Sales were up 2.2% unadjusted year-over-year. In August, sales were up 0.2% month-over-month and up 3.6% year- over-year.

According to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, overall retail sales in September were up 0.7% from August 2023 and up 3.8% year-over-year. That compared with increases of 0.8% month-over-month  and 2.9% year-over-year in August 2023.

“The consumer is still healthy, and today’s report shows households are forging ahead with plenty of buying power despite persistent inflation, rising interest rates and geopolitical conflicts,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Firm payroll growth over the past few months has likely helped spending across retail sectors. However, much of the rise was due to car sales, gasoline prices and food services. When you exclude those categories and look at core retail as measured by NRF, the pace of year-over-year growth is slowing.”

September sales were up in five out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by health and personal care stores, online sales and general merchandise stores, and up or unchanged in all but three categories on a monthly basis.

Specifics from key sectors are below.

•Health and personal care stores were up 0.8% month-over-month (MoM) seasonally adjusted and up 7.3% unadjusted year-over-year (YoY0.

•Online and other non-store sales were up 1.1% MoM seasonally adjusted and up 6.2% unadjusted YoY.

•General merchandise stores were up 0.4% MoM seasonally adjusted and up 3% unadjusted YoY.

•Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.4% MoM seasonally adjusted and up 2.1% unadjusted YoY.

•Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 0.8% MoM seasonally adjusted but up 0.8% unadjusted YoY.

•Sporting goods stores were unchanged MoM seasonally adjusted but down 1.6% unadjusted YoY.

•Electronics and appliance stores were down 0.8% MoM seasonally adjusted and down 2.5% unadjusted YoY.

•Furniture and home furnishings stores were unchanged month over month seasonally adjusted but down 6.5% unadjusted YoY.

•Building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.2% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 6.5% unadjusted YoY.

“September retail sales show that consumers have retained the ability and willingness to spend despite accumulating economic headwinds from higher interest rates and slowing growth,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “As we gear up for the holiday season, we expect moderate growth to continue as consumers focus on value and household priorities. Retailers have been hard at work getting holiday inventories in place to provide consumers with great products, competitive prices and convenience at every opportunity.”



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