The ongoing U.S.-China trade war may have mildly impacted retail sales in September.
Retail sales in September were down 0.1% seasonally adjusted from August but up 4.5% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.
NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said that overall September sales – including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants – were down 0.3% seasonally adjusted from August but up 4.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
“The pullback in September compared with August is possibly a reaction to increased fears over U.S.-China tensions,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “While uncertainty around trade policy and other issues has dampened consumer sentiment recently, consumers still have a lot going for them as evidenced by longer-term trends and factors like the tight labor market. September is a tricky month to measure because of seasonal factors like the end of summer and back-to-school spending, and this year’s early Labor Day may have moved up some spending into the last days of August.”
Specifics from key retail sectors during September include:
• Online and other non-store sales were up 15.6% year-over-year but down 0.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Health and personal care stores were up 4.2% year-over-year and up 0.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Grocery and beverage stores were up 2.6% year-over-year but down 0.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Building materials and garden supply stores were up 2.5% year-over-year but down 1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 1.1% year-over-year and up 0.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Sporting goods stores were unchanged year-over-year but down 0.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• General merchandise stores were down 0.2% year-over-year and down 0.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 0.7% year-over-year but up 1.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Electronics and appliance stores were down 1.7% year-over-year but unchanged month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
As of September, the three-month moving average was up 4.9% over the same period a year ago, compared with 4.1% in August. September’s results build on gains of 0.5% month-over-month and 4.7% year-over-year in August.