NRF Says September Retail Sales Fell More than Expected

NRF Says September Retail Sales Fell More than Expected

The National Retail Federation said retail sales fell more than it expected in September.

Based on preliminary data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Wednesday, NRF said it estimates September retail sales — excluding automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants — decreased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month yet increased 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. While seasonal factors were apparent, especially in August’s downward revision, the drop-off in retail sales was worse than expected.

“Retail sales were surprisingly weak in September,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Despite increasing consumer confidence, an uptick in employment, lower gas prices, and with inflation in check, consumers still slowed spending. Reconciling consumer confidence with consumer spending continues to be a challenge.”

“The consumer appears to have a brighter economic outlook heading into the holiday shopping season,” Kleinhenz said. “However the erratic stock market, geopolitical events and Ebola may contribute to continued volatility. Despite the weak results this month, our outlook remains positive.”

Most retail categories witnessed a decrease in sales in September, including clothing, online and nonstore retailers, but the release of new smartphones lifted electronics sales.

Based on its analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s preliminary estimates of retail sales for September, NRF estimates spending at:

  • Sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores declined -0.1 percent month-to-month and increased 2.7 percent year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores declined -1.2 percent month-to-month and increased 3.3 percent year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores increased 3.4 percent month-to-month and 8 percent year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores increased   0.2 percent month-to-month and2.1 percent year-over-year.
  • Online and other nonstore retailers declined -1.1 percent month-to-month and increased 8.2 percent year-over-year