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US Retail Sales in July Were Flat Compared to June, But Up 10.3% Over 2021

Retail sales growth remained relatively stable in July from June, but were still well above last year’s levels.

Retail sales were $682.8 billion in July, according to a monthly report from the U.S. Census Bureau. This marked little change from the numbers in June, which were amended to reflect $682.6 billion. However, sales were up 10.3% compared with July 2021. 

Between May 2022 through July 2022, total sales were up 9.2% compared to the same period in 2021. The July spending numbers are not adjusted for inflation, which explains certain large spending surges in categories like gasoline, where sales were up 39.9% from July 2021.

“Retail sales grew in July, supported by declines in prices at the gas pump and moderately lower inflation,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Consumers are adapting to higher prices by prioritizing essentials like food and back-to-school items, and retailers are working hard to absorb the impact of higher costs and help customers stretch their hard-earned dollars.”

Within retail, sales remained almost unchanged from June, but were up 10.1% from July 2021. Clothing accessories sales decreased 0.6% from June and increased 2.3% compared with July 2021.

The sales growth in retail can be attributed to various factors such as inflation and various promotional events throughout the month of July, managing director of GlobalData Neil Saunders pointed out.

“Retail volumes remain flat to slightly down — which is a sharp reversal compared to last year when people were engaged in a buying binge,” he explained in a statement. Saunders also noted the impact of Amazon’s Prime Day, which fell out in July and bolstered sales in the non-store category, which grew by 20.2% year over year. Americans spent $11.9 billion across the two-day Prime event, Adobe’s Digital Economy Index found. This marked 8.5% growth compared with last year.

“Amazon contributed a lot to this growth, but so too did the many other retailers that held promotional events,” Saunders said.

The sales report comes as inflation shows signs of cooling. Consumer prices increased 8.5% in July from a year ago, down from its 40-year high of 9.1% a month ago. Energy prices fell 4.6% in July, while gasoline prices dipped 7.7%. This was offset by a 1.1% monthly gain in food prices and a 0.5% increase in shelter costs.

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