"In spite of the uncertainty and unease surrounding our nation's high unemployment and long-term fiscal challenges, consumers continue to spend and shop," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. "Robust back-to-school spending combined with a series of new, technology-led product launches certainly helped retailers in September. The American consumer is holding their own in this economic environment but the question remains, for how long?"
September retail sales, released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed total retail and food services sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 1.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 5.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
"With recent data painting a more optimistic view of consumer confidence, we can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel," NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. "While the latest retail sales data indicates continued improvement for the economy, increasing gas prices and the looming fiscal cliff still pose serious challenges to the momentum we've seen in consumer spending."
Other findings from the September retail sales report include:
Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales increase 0.6 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 3.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Electronics and appliance stores' sales increased 4.5 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 2.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Furniture and home furnishing stores' sales increased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
General merchandise stores' sales increased 0.3 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month but decreased 1.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Health and personal care stores' sales increased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet decreased 2.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Nonstore retailers' sales increased 1.8 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 8.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores' sales increased 0.8 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 3.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Congruent with NRF's revised definition of retail sales to include "auto parts, accessories and tire stores" and "nonstore" sales, NRF is now projecting year-over-year retail sales growth of 4.5 percent. The revised definition seeks to be more representative of the retail industry's diversity, and better reflect the growth and economic influence of e-commerce and mobile retail sales.
NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation's economy. NRF's Retail Means Jobs campaign emphasizes the economic importance of retail and encourages policymakers to support a Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda aimed at boosting economic growth and job creation. www.nrf.com