August Retail Sales Increase, Signifying Retail Resilience Going into Q4

The National Retail Federation (NRF), Thursday said that retail sales rose in August because consumer demand outweighed supply chain disruptions, pandemics, and other factors affecting spending. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, August retail sales were up by 0.7 percent seasonally from July and 15.1 percent year over year. Census data shows that sales have increased year-over month, despite occasional monthly declines.

NRF’s retail sales calculation, which excludes automobile dealers and gasoline stations and focuses on core retail, showed that August saw a 2.3 percent increase in seasonally adjusted retail sales compared to July. It also showed a 12 percent increase unadjusted for the year. NRF’s numbers showed an increase of 11.4 percent year-over-year, based on a 3-month moving average. NRF calculated that sales increased 15% in the first eight months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2020. This is consistent with NRF’s updated forecast which predicts that 2021 retail sales will grow between 10.5 and 13.5% over 2020, to $4.44 trillion or $4.56 trillion.

Total Retail’s View: August’s modest growth in sales is good news for retailers heading into the holiday shopping season. “Despite the trio of macroeconomic headwinds this year, the consumer remains rock solid,” NRF Chief Economics Officer Jack Kleinhenz stated. “These results pave way for strong consumer spending and an economic recovery in the fourth quarter.”

Despite things looking good, retailers still face challenges as they head into the busy fourth quarter. These include supply chain delays, labor shortages, and supply chain delays. Below are the reactions of industry experts to August’s sales figures.

“The rise in vaccinations and reopenings is encouraging shoppers to return to their local shops, creating a need for retail space beyond pre-pandemic levels. Even retailers that were successful during the pandemic are now more confident in expanding their reach to other markets, as consumers return to pre-pandemic levels. We encourage our retail clients to make plans for the holiday season, even though retail sales are rising. Supply chain problems are causing a shortage of inventory in stores which could pose a problem for consumer shopping lists. — Naveen Jaggi, President Retail Advisory Services, JLL

Long-term, supply chain disruptions will likely continue to impact certain categories for months or even years. This prompts brands to assess and collaborate with their partners. Brands that succeed will recognize the potential to offer customers a range of options, including brick-and-mortar shops where they can try the product and online ordering for delivery. The pandemic’s impact can be seen in consumers’ expectations and habits, not only in terms of raw numbers. Consumers are demanding more choices, and brands must offer them. — Adam Coyle CEO, Digital River

Retail sales experienced a.7 percentage increase in August, as people prepared for back-to school season. Consumer confidence rose due to a surge of back-to school shopping. Normalcy returns and businesses reopening reflected the continued economic recovery. Consumers who continue to eat at bars and restaurants despite the Delta variant have not noticed any change and will likely do so into the fall. Consumers have more reasons to spend with the approaching holidays, which will lead to an increase in spending next month. — Marwan Forzley, CEO, Veem

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