September retail sales remained strong on a monthly basis and saw another year-over-year gain last month, despite an interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve and continuing inflation, reports the National Retail Federation (NRF).
“September retail sales confirm that even with rising interest rates, persistent inflation, political uncertainty and volatile global markets, consumers are spending for household priorities,” says NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.
“As we enter the holiday season, shoppers are increasingly seeking deals and discounts to make their dollars stretch, and retailers are already meeting this demand,” he continues. “However, the Biden administration must enact policy measures to relieve inflationary pressure and lower costs for American families. While the Federal Reserve tackles long-term actions meant to end inflation, we believe removing China tariffs, enacting smart immigration reform to address the worker shortage, and increasing investments in supply chain resiliency can and will have an immediate impact on consumers and the economy.”
The U.S. Census Bureau reported that overall retail sales in September were unchanged from August but up 8.2% year over year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That compared with increases of 0.4% month over month and 9.4% year over year in August. On a three-month moving average, sales were up 9.2% year over year.
NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed September was up 0.3% from August and up 7.2% unadjusted year over year. In August, sales were also up 0.3% month over month and were up 8.5% year over year.
NRF’s numbers were up 7.6% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of September. Sales were up 7.2% year over year for the first nine months of the year, keeping results on track with NRF’s forecast that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021.
“Consumer demand remained intact during September and continues to be a key contributor to economic activity,” says NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “But sales were uneven across retail categories and inflation is the main factor that is determining how much shoppers are willing to spend. Households are tapping into savings, accessing credit and reducing their savings contributions as they meet higher prices head on. Shoppers are looking for bargains and value in the current economic environment and even more so as we head into the holiday season.”
September sales were up in all but one retail category on a yearly basis, led by online sales, building materials stores and grocery stores, and increased in five out of nine categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:
- Online and other non-store sales were up 0.5% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 11.5% unadjusted year over year.
- Building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.4% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 9.2% unadjusted year over year.
- Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.4% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 6.7% unadjusted year over year.
- General merchandise stores were up 0.7% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 4.8% unadjusted year over year.
- Sporting goods stores were down 0.7% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 4.8% unadjusted year over year.
- Health and personal care stores were up 0.5% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 4.6% unadjusted year over year.
- Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 0.5% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 4.5% unadjusted year over year.
- Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.7% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 1.5% unadjusted year over year.
- Electronics and appliance stores were down 0.8% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 8.9% unadjusted year over year.