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US Retail Sales Continue Rebound in August

Sep 17, 2020 5:41 AM   By Rapaport News
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US retail sales rose in August for the fourth consecutive month, though the rate of growth slowed from July, government data showed.

Overall retail sales increased 2.6% compared to the same period last year, and 0.6% from the previous month, according to figures the US Census Bureau released Wednesday. That followed a 0.9% month-on-month and 10% year-on-year increase in July. The termination of federal relief measures likely prompted the slowdown, the National Retail Federation (NRF) noted.

“Some consumers likely reduced their spending with the end of the $600 supplemental unemployment benefits for those out of work, but a building-up of savings from that and other government cash helped support spending,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “At this juncture, it is difficult to sort out how much economic activity is due to government support and how much is evidence of hard-core demand due to recent job gains. August numbers might have been higher if not for small businesses struggling with reopening and the return to full operations.”

Online sales soared 20% over the same period last year, but remained flat from July. Just over half of all retail categories saw month-on-month gains, with clothing and accessories stores seeing the largest rise as consumers made back-to-school purchases. However, the NRF believes the government needs to continue its stimulus program heading into the holiday season.

“It comes as no surprise that [consumers] would take a pause on spending as some of the [federal programs] tapered off at the end of July,” said NRF president Matthew Shay. “We continue to advocate for additional stimulus measures to help the economy recover. With the holidays quickly approaching, our retailers are prepared to serve customers to meet all of their holiday needs, and are embracing the new holiday tradition of shopping early.”

Image: A man shopping at the mall wearing a mask. (Shutterstock)
Tags: Jack Kleinhenz, Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation, NRF, Rapaport News, US Census Bureau, US retail sales
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