Consumer spending

Retail sales edge up just 0.1 percent in August

320px-Cash_RegistersRetail sales increased 0.1 percent in August from the previous month and 3.9 percent year-over-year, rising slower than anticipated.

“Slow growth continues to be the economic story five years after the financial crisis,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “The economy, employment, wages and retail sales continue to stagger along. Retailers and consumers are resilient but not overly optimistic about the broader economy. While positive retail sales growth continues month-after-month, it is just not strong enough to move the needle.”

Sales at building material and garden equipment suppliers fell 0.9 percent but increased 5.7 percent year-over-year. Clothing and accessories sales also fell by 0.8 percent, though sales increased 4.6 percent year-over-year.

Sales at general merchandise stores fell 0.2 percent in August but increased 0.4 percent year-over-year, while sales at sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores fell 0.5 percent but increased 3.7 percent year-over-year.

Electronics and appliance sales rose 0.8 percent, and sales at furniture and home furnishing stores increased 0.9 percent. Health and personal care sales rose 0.6 percent and increased three percent year-over-year. Nonstore retail sales increased 0.5 percent and increased 8.8 percent year-over-year.

“Retail sales gains continue to be tepid,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Retail sales and employment, while measurably positive, have been disappointing over the last few months, and have been difficult to reconcile with consumer confidence. The data suggests that consumers remain cautious with their pocketbooks and purchases. This month’s weak retail sales report will continue to put pressure on policymakers, who are dealing with tapering, and retailers, who will need to focus on price and value to entice consumer spending.”

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