Retail sales continued to grow in September even as consumers faced continuing economic pressures, according to the National Retail Federation.
“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 in a news release. “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 in the release. “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.”
September Sales Growth Resulting From Higher Prices
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, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
A SpendTrend® from Fiserv report also found that spending grew +5% in September, largely due to increased transaction growth and higher fuel prices. The report highlights growth in four sectors:
- Retail. Retail spending was down -1.0% year over year for September while transaction growth advanced (+2.7%).
- Restaurants. Restaurant growth has continued to thrive across sales (+5.4%), transactions (+3.1%) and average ticket (+2.2%), with each of these metrics beating August category results.
- Gas Stations. Gasoline station spending growth was up significantly to +5.1% in September, largely due to higher prices at the pump.
- Leisure. Leisure sales growth (+28.8%) remained strong, with gains coming from gaming, movie box office, live entertainment and pro sports events.
Overall Category Sales for September
NRF’s data found that 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:
- Health and personal care stores were up 0.8% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 7.3% unadjusted year over year.
- 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.
- Sporting goods stores were unchanged month over month seasonally adjusted but down 1.6% unadjusted year over year.
- Electronics and appliance stores were down 0.8% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 2.5% 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.