U.S. retailers report weak August sales

September 14, 2008
Written by National Retail Federation
Retailers’ summer started off with a bang but ended with a whimper. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for August (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) decreased 0.3 per cent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 1.1 per cent unadjusted over last year.

August retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) decreased 0.3 per cent seasonally adjusted from the previous month and decreased 0.4 per cent unadjusted year-over-year.
 
“The back-to-school season provided a slight boost to some companies,” said Rosalind Wells, NRF Chief Economist. “Unfortunately, retailers were not able to sustain the momentum they saw in the first half of the summer when families’ spending was being buoyed by the rebate checks.”
 
Consumers looking for bargains on back-to-school merchandise headed to discount and off-price retail stores. Sales at general merchandise stores decreased 0.2 per cent seasonally adjusted from July, but increased 4.6 per cent unadjusted over last August. Electronics and appliance stores sales decreased 1.3 per cent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and decreased 0.3 per cent unadjusted year-over-year.
 
While sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores sales decreased 0.3 per cent seasonally adjusted month-to-month, they increased 0.6 percent unadjusted from last year as shoppers took advantage of new fall merchandise.

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