October 19th, 2021 | By: John Stewart

Research Brief: Retail Sales – August 2021

Consumers tapped brakes on spending last month. Core retail sales dipped 0.7 percent on a monthly basis in July. Flattening consumer confidence likely indicates that the increase in coronavirus cases due to the delta variant is impacting shopping behavior. Clothing store sales, for instance, declined 2.6 percent last month, while department stores reported a 0.3 percent decline. The termination of federal unemployment benefits in roughly half of U.S. states may have also impacted retail sales in July. At least some of the 8.7 million unemployed Americans likely tightened their belts, contributing to last month’s pullback in consumer spending. Although July was a relatively soft month for consumers, core retail sales are up 13.8 percent annually and 16.6 percent from the pre-COVID level, which largely mitigated the negative impact on retail asset performance through the health crisis.