Americans have learned to shop with the virus
The 1.1 percent decline in July retail sales reported earlier this week by the U.S. Census Bureau is nothing to be overly concerned about. That’s the analysis of the National Retail Federation (NRF), which sees strong consumer demand going forward.
“Despite this monthly dip, the economy has rebounded quite well and is more than just on the mend,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. “The consumer has continued to be resilient and recent price increases brought on by constraints in the supply chain have not dampened the robust demand seen during the past year. If retailers could find more inventory, they could sell it.”
NRF pointed out that despite the monthly decline, year-over-year numbers are trending positively. Its numbers show that revenues were up 9.5 percent year-over-year in July and 12.8 percent in June. Its three month average is plus 13 percent compared to the same period in 2020.
Consumer electronics and appliance stores and health and personal care product retailers were able to buck the July dip with gains of 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent respectively on a month-over-month basis. The two verticals year-over-year numbers improved 23.4 percent and 8.4 percent respectively.
The rise of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths tied to Delta variant in communities where vaccination rates are low is becoming more of a concern for Americans.
“Consumers are a bit fearful again as we approach another possible wave of COVID-19 infections, but they’ve learned to live with the virus and shopping continues,” said Mr. Kleinhenz.
Matthew Shay, NRF president and chief executive officer, said that the economy remains strong with support of federal tax credits and rising incomes in a competitive job market.
“We remain optimistic that the strength of the American consumer and ingenuity of the retail industry will produce continued growth heading into the fall,” he said. “We encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as possible to stop the spread of the virus and to keep our economy growing.”
- July Retail Sales Slow Amid Tight Supply Chain but Demand Continues as Consumers Learn to ‘Live with the Virus’ – National Retail Federation
- Advance Monthly Sales For Retail And Food Services, July 2021 – U.S. Census Bureau 2021
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you share NRF’s assessment that supply chain disruptions and not consumer sentiment pose the most immediate risk to retail? Will Americans continue with their recent returns to in-person shopping or do you see the Delta variant causing a fallback to patterns that developed early on in the pandemic last year?