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US Retail Sales Jump Amid Boost from Delta Variant

Oct 17, 2021 5:59 AM   By Rapaport News
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US retail sales rose in September as consumer fears over the Covid-19 Delta variant redirected spending toward goods rather than services, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said.

Revenue grew 0.7% versus the previous month and jumped 14% over the same period a year ago, according to data the US Census Bureau reported last week. That compares to a 0.9% month-on-month increase in August.

“The reopening of the economy was interrupted by Covid-19, and consumer spending other than retail hit a speed bump toward the end of summer,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Consumers remained active, but retail sales didn’t reflect as much of a shift away from goods to services as expected. That was a plus for retail because consumers still have a hyper-ability to spend thanks to wage and job gains and the household savings built up during the pandemic.”

Back-to-school spending may have also continued into September, NRF noted. While retail sales for the period usually decline during August, many school districts delayed opening until after Labor Day, which fell on September 6.

However, it’s possible September spending could have grown even more if not for the shipping bottleneck at US ports.

“Overall, the September report is very promising for a strong finish for the year,” Kleinhenz explained. “Nonetheless, rising inflation and slower supply chains remain a concern. Spending might have been higher if not for shortages of items consumers are eager to purchase.”

In September, sales increased year on year in all nine of the categories the US Census Bureau monitors. The clothing and accessories segment — which includes jewelry — had the highest growth, up 23%. Revenues for the category also rose 1.1% compared to August. Online sales across all products climbed 11% year on year and 0.6% from the previous month.

For the first nine months of the year, sales from all sectors were up 15% relative to 2020, consistent with the NRF’s forecast that retail sales would grow 10.5% to 13.5% this year to between $4.44 trillion and $4.56 trillion.

Image: Women shopping at the mall. (Shutterstock)
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Tags: Covid-19 Delta variant, Jack Kleinhenz, Jewelry, National Retail Federation, NRF, Rapaport News, US Census Bureau, US retail sales
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