Record sales in e-commerce. Retail sales from gas stations, from car dealerships jump to record. Falling gas prices and shortages of new cars haunt these retailers


No, consumers didn’t suddenly flock back to the mall. That was just a media joke. They shop online more than ever. Sales in department stores fell.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

The retail sales data, reported today by the Census Bureau, is based on surveys of about 5,500 retail businesses in the US and what they said sale was. The measure is intended to track as well retailers make over Dealer categoryand we’ll get into those categories in a moment.

Another action taken consumer spending, related to consumer surveys. It is reported separately and comes in an inflation-adjusted version. But not today (here’s the “real” consumer spending for June).

Retail sales track sales of goods, not services, and account for only a portion of what consumers spend their money on — and about two-thirds of consumer spending is on services, and spending has shifted back to services throughout the year.

These are important distinctions between retail sales and consumer spending. I mention this here because it always trickles through our illustrious comments section below the article.

Retail sales data is designed to examine retailer health by retailer category, not consumer health, although we can draw some conclusions about consumers from these retail sales.

Inflation in trading = price increases. But where?

CPI inflation was 8.5% in July compared to July last year. Compared to June, the CPI was unchanged. However, this varied greatly depending on the product category. Services CPI is inexorably rising but plays no role in retail sales as retailers sell goods.

Gasoline CPI: -7.7% in July from June; If gas stations had sold the same amount of gallons in July as they did in June, their dollar retail gasoline sales would have fallen 7.7% from June. But they didn’t — they only fell 1.8%, as we’ll see in a moment.

Eating at home CPI: +1.3% in July from June. That means if consumers buy the same amount of groceries and don’t switch to cheaper products, grocery store sales could rise 1.3% this month. But they didn’t. They were up just 0.2%, as we’ll see in a moment.

Durable Durables CPI: +0.3% in July versus June and was flat versus February after falling in previous months. Durable goods price increases emerged in 2021 and have now largely calmed down as inflation has shifted to services. Retailers selling durable goods (other than groceries and gasoline) saw relatively fewer and smaller price increases, if any, in July.

Sale in specialist shops.

Retail sales in July were flat at $683 million (seasonally adjusted) from June, but up 10.3% from July last year and 31.6% from July 2019, the Statistics Office today.

But gas prices plummeted, hurting dollar sales at gas stations; and new-car dealers had a pitiful lack of inventory (down over 70% from 2019 in terms of new vehicle counts), hurting their sales. Excluding petrol and auto dealers, retail sales in July were up 0.7% from June.

Total retail sales:

Retail sales minus sales at gas stations and car dealerships:

Sales by merchant category.

Sale in new and used car and parts trade fell 1.6% in July from June to $125 billion, seasonally adjusted. Compared to July a year ago, sales increased by 2.1% and compared to July three years ago by 21%. This is the largest category of retail sales.

Sales at e-commerce and other “non-store retailers” rose 2.7% in July from June to a new record of $111 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis, up 20% year over year and up 73% since July 2019 as consumers failed to make a sudden and inexplicable return to the mall – on the contrary, despite idiotic media hype. See department store sales below for how it worked for her.

This includes sales by e-commerce-only retailers and by brick-and-mortar retailers’ e-commerce operations, as well as sales at stalls and markets:

Grocery and Beverage Stores: Revenue for the month rose 0.2% to $79 billion, up 9.2% year over year and up 22% over three years:

Gastronomy and drinking establishments: Sales at bars, restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, etc. rose 0.1% this month to a record $86 billion, up 11.6% year-on-year and up 32% over three years.

Convenience Stores: Sales for the month fell 0.7% to $56 billion, up just 0.9% from last year’s stimulus miracle and 15% over three years. Walmart and Target are in this category, but not department stores:

gas stations: Prices tumbled in July, yet sales since June are down just a seasonally adjusted 1.8% to $67 billion, the second-highest on record behind June. This was up 40% year over year and up 57% from three years ago, thanks to price increases, which have now eased somewhat:

Building materials, garden supplies and equipment stores: Revenue rose 1.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis to $43 billion, up 10% year over year and up 37% over three years:

Clothing and Accessories Stores: Revenue for the month fell 0.6% to $26 billion, was up 2% year over year and 15% over three years.

Various retailers (including cannabis stores): Revenue rose 1.5% this month, 18% year over year and 50% over three years to $16 billion. This category includes specialty stores such as art supply stores, brew supplies stores, etc. and cannabis stores, which are the hottest trend in brick-and-mortar retail:

Furniture and furnishing stores: Revenue for the month rose 0.2% to $12 billion, up 2% year over year and up 20% over three years:

Department Stores: Revenue declined 0.5% for the month, 1.4% year over year and 3.3% over three years to $11 billion. Sales are down 44% from the peak in 2000 as thousands of stores have disappeared amid an endless series of bankruptcies and liquidations as Americans opt to buy their department store items online:

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music shops: Revenue for the month rose 0.1% to $9.2 billion, up 4% year over year and up 38% over three years:

Electronics and Appliance Stores: Revenue rose 0.4% for the month to $7.6 billion, down 10% year over year and down 1% over three years.

This category of retail stores includes only specialty electronics and gadget stores, such as: B. Best Buy’s brick-and-mortar stores or Apple’s brick-and-mortar stores. Other retailers that sell electronics and home appliances, such as Walmart, and e-commerce sales of electronics and home appliances are not covered:

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