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Research + Studies

U.S. Census reports strong August sales

September 14, 2018

August was another hot month for retailers. Excluding vehicles and gas, sales for the month rose by 5.1 percent from August of last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Friday.

Apparel retailers were especially strong, boasting a 6.3 percent year-over-year increase. Health and personal-products stores did well too, up by 4.9 percent, as did food-and-beverage stores (up by 4.3 percent), electronics retailers (3.9 percent), furniture stores (3.5 percent) and building-supply shops (3.3 percent).

Restaurants and drinking establishments in particular increased by a whopping 10.1 percent, and general-merchandise store sales rose by 3.7 percent.

“This is good news for our industry, considering that the vast majority of these sales are taking place in physical stores”

For these first eight months of the year, overall retail sales (vehicles and gas excluded) are up by 4.9 percent versus the 2017 comparable period. Here, too, apparel has performed well, with sales increasing by 5.4 percent through the period.

“This is good news for our industry, considering that the vast majority of these sales are taking place in physical stores,” said Jean Lambert, vice president of ICSC Research. “Monthly sales have been strong this year so far, but we should note that monthly sales grew significantly stronger in the last quarter of 2017, and, as a result, the comparisons between this year and last could soften in the coming months.”

Not every retail category is celebrating, though. The Census Bureau lumps together sporting goods, hobby stores, books and music shops, which collectively saw sales decline by 3.9 percent in August, following a 4.8 percent decline in July. This category has seen year-over-year sales decline every month except February.

By Edmund Mander

Director, Editor-In-Chief/SCT

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