Growing Shift Online Evident in Latest Retail Sales

Growing momentum in online sales gains made July’s letup in retail sales growth look even weaker for store retailers—with furniture and drug stores two key exceptions.

The numbers suggest that relatively healthy Spending Confidence is disproportionately benefiting online retailers, especially in discretionary goods categories from apparel to electronics.

Also weighing on growth at traditional retail stores was healthy month-to-month growth at automobile dealers, according to a first look at the latest U.S. retail numbers.

  • Retail Sales Trends - MacroSavvyIn July, seasonally adjusted sales excluding autos, food service, and fuel slowed to 3.5% growth. That’s a full percentage point weaker than the prior month and off of the 4.0% year-to-date pace. These measures exclude gasoline and fuel dealers.
  • Online and other nonstore retailers remained above 14% growth for a second straight month and at double-digit growth for a fourth straight month. (Other nonstore includes catalogs and TV home shopping.)
  • Sporting goods, hobby and other specialty stores fell off dramatically month-to-month, which may be evidence of accelerating online penetration in these categories.
  • Clothing stores were another key laggard—falling -0.5% month-to-month—as apparel store retailers failed to capitalize on stronger spending confidence in the category.
  • Grocery stores sales fell -0.9% month-to-month, which was consistent with the weak spending confidence in food and grocery categories indicated by the July Spending Confidence Index™ (see here).

See the table summary for more detail.

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