Retail sales fell 0.1 percent from June to July and 9.4 percent compared with July of last year, according to advance estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Much of the year-over-year difference was due to falling gas prices, which brought gasoline station sales down 32.5 percent.
Retail industry sales for July, excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, decreased 5 percent unadjusted year-over-year but declined 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month, according to the National Retail Federation.
In the last month before back-to-school shoppers are expected to pump sales up, retailers found little or no improvement in consumer spending.
“Many families postponed the bulk of their back-to-school shopping this year, possibly waiting to take advantage of their state sales tax holiday or hoping for additional discounts,” said Rosalind Wells, chief economist of NRF. “Hopefully, retailers’ aggressive promotions and reduced inventory levels will make for a better August and shield retailers from a disappointing season.”
Health and personal care store sales were among the few sectors that gained, with sales increasing 0.7 percent adjusted from last month and up 4.7 percent unadjusted over last July. Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores also increased a slight 0.6 percent adjusted month-to-month but decreased 7.2 percent unadjusted year-over year.
Contact Thomas L. Gallagher at email@example.com.