August Retail Sales Figures Show Consumers Are Feeling the Pandemic Pinch

Retail sales rose in August, though not as much as economists hoped. For those concerned about the US’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, the numbers offer further evidence that consumers are feeling the pinch of economic uncertainty and high unemployment amid the pandemic.

August retail sales climbed 0.6%, below the 1% consensus estimate. Retail sales for July were also revised lower, to 0.9% from 1.2%.

Sales excluding autos were up 0.7%, below expectations as well. The control group (which tries to hone in specifically on consumer habits by excluding data from places like auto dealers, gas stations, office supply stores, and tobacco sales) slipped 0.1%, its first decline since April and only the second in 2020. Consensus called for a 0.3% increase.

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“Overall, an underwhelming consumption update that leads to questions about the sustainability of the mid-pandemic pace of spending,” writes Ian Lyngen, head of US rates strategy at BMO Capital Markets… Barron’s

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