Oct 17, 2023
NRF: Retail sales rose in September; core year-over-year gains slowing

Retail sales continued to grow in September even as consumers faced continuing economic pressures, the National Retail Federation recently announced.

“September retail sales show that consumers have retained the ability and willingness to spend despite accumulating economic headwinds from higher interest rates and slowing growth,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “As we gear up for the holiday season, we expect moderate growth to continue as consumers focus on value and household priorities. Retailers have been hard at work getting holiday inventories in place to provide consumers with great products, competitive prices and convenience at every opportunity.”

“The consumer is still healthy, and today’s report shows households are forging ahead with plenty of buying power despite persistent inflation, rising interest rates and geopolitical conflicts,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Firm payroll growth over the past few months has likely helped spending across retail sectors. However, much of the rise was due to car sales, gasoline prices and food services. When you exclude those categories and look at core retail as measured by NRF, the pace of year-over-year growth is slowing.”

The U.S. Census Bureau recently said overall retail sales in September were up 0.7% from August and up 3.8% year over year. That compared with increases of 0.8% month over month and 2.9% year over year in August.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed September was up 0.5% seasonally adjusted from August and up 2.2% unadjusted year over year. In August, sales were up 0.2% month over month and up 3.6% year over year.

NRF’s numbers were up 3.1% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of September and up 3.7% for the first nine months of the year.

September sales were up in five out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by health and personal care stores, online sales and general merchandise stores, and up or unchanged in all but three categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 1.1% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 6.2% unadjusted year over year.
  • General merchandise stores were up 0.4% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 3% unadjusted year over year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.4% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 2.1% unadjusted year over year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 0.8% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 0.8% unadjusted year over year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were unchanged month over month seasonally adjusted but down 6.5% unadjusted year over year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.2% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 6.5% unadjusted year over year.