Retail sales reached $621.3 billion in June, compared to $617.9 billion in May. That’s good news for retailers that are still facing lower-than-average foot traffic. As states loosen COVID-19 restrictions, consumers are returning to shop in-store, but the return to normal is still a ways off. Retail sales actually fell 1.3% in May.
Auto sales declined for the month, bringing down the overall retail category as defined by the Census Bureau. Excluding auto sales, retail sales rose 1.3% month over month. The auto industry has been plagued by supply chain issues and pandemic-related disruptions over the past several months. With dwindling supply and higher prices, sales saw a decline of 2% in June after also dropping in May.
Another good sign for retailers is more consumers spending money outside the home at places like restaurants and bars. Consumers also increased spending on clothing and accessories stores.
“Clothing and clothing accessories stores were up 47.1[%] from June 2020, while food services and drinking places were up 40.2[%] from last year,” the Census Bureau reported.
However, sales fell in categories that have seen huge demand during the pandemic, including furniture, sporting goods and building materials. That’s in line with other recent shopping trends that included a surge in sales for luggage, personal care and hygiene products, as well as summer products like swimsuits and sunscreen.
The outlook for the rest of the year also remains positive for retailers. The National Retail Federation is extremely bullish on sales growth for the remainder of 2021, and the association recently upped its forecast. NRF projects that retail sales will grow between 10.5% and 13.5% for the rest of 2021, reaching $4.44 trillion for the year.
“Continued growth in June retail sales shows enduring strength in the American consumer,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said of the June sales figures. “Heading into the back-to-school season, we expect record sales as families purchase electronics, shoes and backpacks for in-person learning this year. However, as the drop in monthly auto sales indicates, retailers are facing product shortages and supply chain constraints. We urge Congress and the administration to enact meaningful, bipartisan infrastructure legislation that is critical for retailers who depend on a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system to drive further economic growth.”