July retail sales were up 4.9% over the same month in 2017 as rising confidence in the economy keeps registers ringing.
“Today’s numbers mirror the economy, which is in very good shape,” National Retail Forum chief economist Jack Kleinhenz says. Adding that consumer confidence, a strengthening labor market and more after-tax dollars in household wallets thanks to tax reform are contributing to improving fortunes for retailers.
While households are feeling more confident, there is still concern about the impact of ongoing international trade disputes on prices. “Consumer fundamentals remain healthy and continue to provide wherewithal for consumers to drive domestic economic growth. Consumer spending is the backbone of the current economic expansion but the fly in the ointment is uncertainty regarding tariffs,” Mr Kleinhenz said. “If they escalate, they will no doubt weigh on confidence and household spending.”
The July results build on improvement seen in June, which was down 0.1 percent monthly from May but up 3.9 percent year-over-year.
NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said overall July sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – were up 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted from June and up 6.4 percent year-over-year.