July retail sales show positive trend
Recent tariffs to cause caution in spending, economists say

Freeman Staff

Aug. 16, 2019

 In this Aug. 7, 2019, photo shoppers ride an escalator inside the
Glendale Galleria in Glendale, Calif.

Associated Press

WAUKESHA — July retail sales across the nation show strong gains but the stock market and tariffs could lead to caution in consumer spending, the National Retail Federation announced Thursday.

Retail sales were up .9% in July seasonally adjusted from June and up 5.6% unadjusted year-over-year, according to an NRF press release. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“July’s strong results are consistent with a confident consumer,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “Households are in good shape with spending and that should continue as long as the labor market remains healthy.”

However, Kleinhenz said it’s important to remember that today’s data is looking backward at what was happening a month ago.

“The impact of volatile financial markets and increased trade tensions in recent weeks may put a wind of caution in consumer spending as we move forward in 2019,” Kleinhenz said.

The release of July’s numbers comes two days after the Trump administration delayed new tariffs on some consumer goods until Dec. 15 to avoid any impact on holiday spending, but many products will still be hit by tariffs taking effect on Sept. 1 as scheduled, according to the press release.

As of July, the three-month moving average was up 3.5% over the same period a year ago, compared with 3.7% in June. July’s results build on gains of 0.6% month-over-month and 2.2% year-over-year seen in June, according to the press release.

The NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said today that overall July sales — including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants — were up 0.7% seasonally adjusted from June and up 3.4% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the press release.