US Retail Sales Weak in July as Slowdown Continues in Clothing, Department Stores

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American consumers were still slow to spend in July and retail sales were relatively unchanged from June as a result.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s advance monthly report, released Friday, total retail sales were $457.7 billion last month—down slightly from June’s $457.9 billion, which was a 0.7% increase over May—and up by only 1.9% from July 2015.

Clothing and accessories sales slowed, down 0.5% from June’s $21.26 billion to $21.1 billion—a 1.2% decrease year-over-year. Sales at sporting goods stores fell 2.2% from $8 billion in June to $7.8 billion in July, while general merchandise sales—which includes department stores—were down 0.1% on a monthly basis and 1.1% compared with July 2015 to $55.85 billion. Department store sales alone fell 0.5% from June and were down 4 percent from last July.

E-commerce continued to trend up last month. Following June’s 1.1% monthly gain, non-store retail sales (online) were up 1.3% from the previous month—and a massive 14.1% from July 2015—to reach $47.7 billion.

Late last month, the National Retail Federation raised its outlook for 2016 and said retail sales for the year would grow 3.4%. Following Friday’s disappointing sales result, the remainder of the year looks a little less bright.

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