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U.S. Retail Sales Rise in June Despite Inflation

Mike Schuler
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July 15, 2022

Retail sales in the U.S. increased in June even as inflation climbed higher and drove up prices across the board, the National Retail Federation said Friday.

Strong retail sales throughout the pandemic have helped drive record U.S. imports that continue to overwhelm ports and supply chains.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics this week showed that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 9.1 percent over the last 12 months, a 1.3% increase from May.

“June retail sales data shows that consumers remain on solid footing despite rising prices and an active Fed raising interest rates to combat it,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Inflation has consumers modifying their spending behavior and prioritizing essentials like food, energy and back-to-school items. Unfortunately, modified consumer behavior won’t be sufficient to offset persistent price increases. Other policy measures like removing China tariffs, enacting smart immigration reforms and investing in supply chain resiliency are needed to lower costs for American families and put much-needed dollars back into their pockets.”

The U.S. Census Bureau today said overall retail sales in June were up 1% seasonally adjusted from May and up 8.4% year over year. That compared with a 0.1% month-over-month decrease and 8.2% year-over-year increase in May.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed June was up 0.6% from May and up 5.8% unadjusted year over year. In May, sales were down 0.3% month over month but up 6.3% year over year.

NRF’s numbers were up 5.8% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of June. Sales were up 7% year over year for the first six months of the year.

The NRF said June sales were up in all but two retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, grocery stores and building materials stores, and increased in just over half of the categories on a monthly basis.

“June’s numbers show consumers are powering through price pressures, but inflation is eating away at savings built up during the pandemic and is wiping out recent income gains,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Inflation remains a challenge to consumers trying to make ends meet and will continue to be an issue even if it cools down in the months ahead. Despite that, consumers are holding up notably well and continuing to spend.”

Meanwhile, Amazon said this week’s Prime Day Sale event was its “biggest ever” with more than 300 million items worldwide during the two-day event. The Amazon Prime Day event helped drive online retail sales in the U.S. to more than $11.9 billion over the two days, an 8.5% increase compared to last year, according to Adobe Analytics data.

This week the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s top gateway for retail imports, both reported record cargo volumes in June.

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