Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Retail sales rebound in July

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- After two months of declines, retail sales rebounded in July, the government said Friday.

Total retail sales rose 0.4% to $362.7 billion, compared with June's 0.3% decrease, the Commerce Department said. The June drop was revised from the originally reported 0.5%.

The overall sales percentage gain was slightly lower than anticipated. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected sales would rise by 0.5% during the month.

Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, so retail sales and related reports are closely monitored to gauge the health of the economy.

Sales excluding autos and auto parts rose 0.2% last month, in line with economists' forecasts. In June, sales on the same basis were down 0.1%.

Motor vehicle and parts sales also rose 1.6% in the month, and gasoline store sales rose 2.3%.

As the recovery tugs along at a slower pace than most analysts had originally expected, consumers are still cautious about their spending. But July also marked the start of back-to-school shopping season, which often means a boost in sales.

"Back-to-school has accelerated into the July timeframe and we certainly know that parents are expecting to spend more than they did last year. The July numbers would indicate that that's going to be playing out through August as well," said Janet Hoffman, managing director of consultant firm Accenture's retail practice.

Overall, retail sales are up 5.5% over July last year, the government report said.

But the year-over-year comparison is not necessarily something to "jump for joy over," as retailers come off some deep hits last year during the downturn, said Doug Hart, a partner in the consumer product division of business services firm BDO.

On a month-to-month basis, sales are still showing relatively flat to modest gains in line with a slow recovery, he said.

"Consumers are still looking for value. They're still cautious," Hart said.

Analysts also often look to back-to-school season to forecast how retailers will fare during their most profitable season - the winter holidays.

Hoffman said she doesn't expect a "shocking uptick" in retail sales during the holidays, but is forecasting sales growth for that period. To top of page

Search for Jobs

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 19,756.85 142.04 0.72%
Nasdaq 5,444.50 27.14 0.50%
S&P 500 2,259.53 13.34 0.59%
Treasuries 2.46 0.08 3.23%
Data as of 9:59pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 23.09 0.14 0.61%
Ford Motor Co 13.17 0.14 1.07%
Chesapeake Energy Co... 7.72 0.12 1.58%
Twenty-First Century... 28.21 -0.43 -1.50%
Apple Inc 113.95 1.83 1.63%
Data as of Dec 9
Sponsors

Sections

Even Carl Icahn, one of President-elect Donald Trump's biggest cheerleaders on Wall Street, thinks the post-election exuberance in the stock market has gotten a bit out of hand. More

Republican leaders keep saying Obamacare is hurting the economy and killing jobs, but there's scant evidence for it. In fact, a number of studies show that the economy has been growing. More

Some of the hottest products of the year cost well under $100, from gaming consoles and VR headsets to drones. More

The Los Angeles city attorney is suing four major retailers over claims that they deliberately inflated the original price on some items that misled customers into thinking they were getting a better deal. More