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    Back-to-school Shopping Boosts August Retail Sales

    4.7 percent increase unadjusted year-over-year

    Retailers posted positive sales figures during the month of August due in large part to a solid back-to-school shopping season, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

    August sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) increased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from July and 3.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

    “The retail industry continues to demonstrate its strength and resiliency during this fragile economic time,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based NRF. “However consumers and retail companies continue to face many questions and challenges, from stubbornly high unemployment and stagnant incomes to depressed housing prices and the looming fiscal cliff, all playing into overall economic uncertainty and declining consumer confidence."

    August retail sales, released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed total retail and food services sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

    “While retailers continue to witness sustained sales growth, consumers remain cautious about their discretionary expenditures,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “Consumers have carried much of the growth during the economic recovery, despite high food and gas costs. Though the economy isn’t backsliding, growth continues to be a sore point.”

    Other findings from NRF’s August retail sales report include:

    • Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales decreased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month but increased 7.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
    • Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 2.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
    • Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month but 9.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
    • General merchandise stores’ sales decreased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month but increased 0.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
    • Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 0.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
    • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales were flat seasonally adjusted month-to-month but increased 6.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

    The NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad.
     

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