Retail Sales Weakened in September; Storms Strengthened

In What's New, Industry News by Lauren Parker, Accessories Magazine

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Could this be a time when retailers can actually blame weak sales on the weather?

According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales in September increased a meager 0.4% over August on a seasonally adjusted basis and were up 3% year-over-year. These calculations exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

The September numbers are in contrast to retail’s long-term pattern of increased sales. Total retail sales have grown year-over-year every month since November 2009, and retail sales as calculated by NRF – excluding automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants—have increased year-over-year in all but one month since the beginning of 2010.

“Retail sales were somewhat softer than expected in September and some of the weakness can be attributed to Hurricane Florence and geopolitical trade concerns.”

“Retail sales were somewhat softer than expected in September and some of the weakness can be attributed to Hurricane Florence and geopolitical trade concerns,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Recent solid wage gains and other fundamentals continue to propel spending, which has been supported by tax cuts, saving and access to credit. Today’s numbers confirm an underlying strength in the industry and a solid trajectory as we go into the fourth quarter.”

September sales were up 4.5% on a three-month moving average compared with the same period a year ago.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which released overall September sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – were up 0.1% seasonally adjusted from August and 4.7% above September 2017.

The Breakdown

Specifics from key retail sectors during September include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 8.9% unadjusted year-over-year and up 1.1% seasonally adjusted from August.
  • Electronics and appliance stores sales were up 4.6% unadjusted year-over-year and up 0.9% seasonally adjusted from August.
  • General merchandise stores sales were up 3.5% unadjusted year-over-year and up 0.3% seasonally adjusted from August.
  • Clothing and accessories stores sales were up 3.1% unadjusted year-over-year and up 0.5% seasonally adjusted from August.
  • Food and beverage stores sales were up 2.1% unadjusted year-over-year and up 0.2% seasonally adjusted from August.
  • Health and personal care stores sales were up 1.8% unadjusted year-over-year and down 0.3% from August.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores sales were up 1.5% unadjusted year-over-year and up 1.1% seasonally adjusted from August.
  • Sporting goods stores sales were down 6.3% unadjusted year-over-year and up 0.7% seasonally adjusted from August.
  • Building materials and supplies stores sales were down 0.3% unadjusted year-over-year and up 0.1% seasonally adjusted from August.
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