Year-Over-Year Retail Sales Growth Continues

Retail sales remained strong on a monthly basis and saw another year-over-year gain in September despite an interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve and continuing inflation, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Matthew Shay
Matthew Shay

“September retail sales confirm that even with rising interest rates, persistent inflation, political uncertainty, and volatile global markets, consumers are spending for household priorities,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “As we enter the holiday season, shoppers are increasingly seeking deals and discounts to make their dollars stretch, and retailers are already meeting this demand. However, the Biden administration must enact policy measures to relieve inflationary pressure and lower costs for American families. While the Federal Reserve tackles long-term actions meant to end inflation, we believe removing China tariffs, enacting smart immigration reform to address the worker shortage, and increasing investments in supply chain resiliency can and will have an immediate impact on consumers and the economy.”

Jack Kleinhenz
Jack Kleinhenz

“Consumer demand remained intact during September and continues to be a key contributor to economic activity,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “But sales were uneven across retail categories and inflation is the main factor that is determining how much shoppers are willing to spend. Households are tapping into savings, accessing credit, and reducing their savings contributions as they meet higher prices head on. Shoppers are looking for bargains and value in the current economic environment and even more so as we head into the holiday season.”

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The US Census Bureau said that overall retail sales in September were unchanged from August but up 8.2 percent year-over-year. That compared with increases of 0.4 percent month-over-month and 9.4 percent year-over-year in August. On a three-month moving average, sales were up 9.2 percent year-over-year.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales—which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants to focus on core retail—showed September was up 0.3 percent from August and up 7.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year. In August, sales were also up 0.3 percent month-over-month and were up 8.5 percent year-over-year.

NRF’s numbers were up 7.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year on a three-month moving average as of September. Sales were up 7.2 percent year-over-year for the first nine months of the year, keeping results on track with the NRF’s forecast that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6 percent and 8 percent over 2021.

September sales were up in all but one retail category on a yearly basis, led by online sales, building materials stores and grocery stores, and increased in five out of nine categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 0.5 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 11.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.4 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 9.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.4 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 6.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores were up 0.7 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 4.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 0.7 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 4.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.5 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 0.5 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 4.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.7 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 1.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 0.8 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted and down 8.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

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