retail sales in EE.UU. It rose unexpectedly in August, as a rise in purchases across most categories offset weakness at car dealerships, indicating the resilience of consumer demand for products.
The value of retail purchases overall rose 0.7% last month, after a downward-adjusted decline of 1.8% in July, according to Commerce Department figures. Excluding cars, sales grew 1.8% in August, the largest increase in five months.
The median estimate from a Bloomberg survey of economists expected a 0.7% drop in total retail sales, with expectations ranging from a 3.3% decline to a 1.1% rise.
The sudden improvement in sales, buoyed in part by back-to-school purchases and payments to millions of families with children, indicates a healthy demand for the goods. The report showed stronger returns in online retailers, general merchandise stores, furniture stores, and grocery stores.
The delta variable is curbing demand for services like travel and entertainment, which could allow Americans to spend on goods again.
The data showed revenue for restaurants and bars, the only service spending category in the report, stagnated in August. Meanwhile, grocery store revenue rose 2.1%.
“While spending on goods has been much stronger than we expected, it should only add to the shortages we have seen in recent months, while the drop in spending on restaurants and bars suggests that the broader recovery in service consumption may have faltered,” Michael wrote. Pierce, chief US economist at Capital Economics, in a note.
Increased contagion, higher prices, and persistent supply chain problems have caused a series of cuts to third-quarter economic growth forecasts in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Their third-quarter consumption forecast is down 0.5% year-on-year due to the impact of the delta variance on services spending.
Segmentation by categories
According to the Commerce Department’s report, 10 out of 13 categories reported increases in sales. Sales fell at car dealerships, electronics and hardware stores, sporting goods and hobby stores.
Sales of auto and parts dealers declined 3.6% in August after declining 4.6% the previous month. This reflects high prices and limited inventory that have driven auto sales to their weakest level in more than a year, according to Wards Automotive Group.