The willingness of Americans to spend trumped inflation again in August as more jobs and higher wages helped ease some of the pressure of continuing high prices, the National Retail Federation said Thursday.
“August retail sales show consumers’ resiliency to spend on household priorities despite persistent inflation and rising interest rates,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. “As we gear up for the holiday season, consumers are seeking value to make their dollars stretch. Retailers have been hard at work managing their supply chains and holiday inventories to provide consumers with great products, competitive prices, and convenience at every opportunity.”
NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said household spending has remained steady – even as costs continue to creep upward. “Consumers continuing to spend more each month points to the benefits of strong job and wage growth and their use of pandemic savings to help handle persistent elevated prices,” Keinhenz said. “Consumers are showing their toughness, but they have limited options and cannot continue if prices do not begin to soften.”
The NRF’s August retail sales report comes amid mixed signals from the broader economy “that show the headwinds against the consumer are strengthening,” Kleinhenz said.
The U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday that overall retail sales in August were up 0.3% from July and up 9.1% year over year. That compared with a month-over-month decline of 0.4% and a year-over-year increase of 10.1% in July. On a three-month moving average, sales were up 9.3% year over year.
NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed August was up 0.1% percent from July and up 8% unadjusted year over year. In July, sales were up 0.5% month over month and up 7.2% ear over year.
NRF’s numbers were up 7.3% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of August. Sales were up 7.5% year over year for the first eight months of the year, keeping results on track with NRF’s forecast that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6 percent and 8 percent over 2021.
August sales were up in all but one retail category on a yearly basis, led by building material stores, online sales and grocery stores, and increased in all but four categories on a monthly basis.