Retail Sales Up for the First Time Since February

Image Retails Sales Up in JulyU.S retail sales rose in July for the first time in four months, as demand rose broadly for everything from cars to electronics, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Monthly retail sales figures for July totaled $403.9 billion, an increase of 0.8 percent over the previous month and 4.1 percent over July 2011. The 0.8 percent increase was the biggest gain since February and well above analysts’ expectations.

“Following three months of disappointing sales, skittish consumers returned to stores in July,” states Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) president Sandy Kennedy. “Retailers adjustments to product assortments and pricing are paying off as budget-conscious consumers opened their wallets again last month.”

Remarkably, all retail segments reported gains in July.  General merchandizers saw a 0.7 percent increase over June, while sporting goods and furniture retailers reported growth of 1.6 percent and 1.1 percent respectively. Retailers, however, remain concerned about the impact that economic and regulatory issues could have on consumers in the months ahead.  Last week, RILA urged President Obama and Governor Romney to focus on the impending fiscal cliff and to advance policies in the coming months that will promote a robust and vibrant retail industry.

“The vibrant economy we all seek cannot exist without a robust retail industry,” Kennedy says. “Consumers remain highly sensitive to economic news and policy debates that threaten their financial security. Continued high unemployment and the prospects of reaching the fiscal cliff later this year will continue to weigh on the minds of consumers as they consider their spending in the months to come.”

Job creation in the United States slowed dramatically in the second quarter as consumer spending cooled and economic growth slowed. Job creation accelerated in July although the unemployment rate still rose to 8.3 percent.