US Retail Sales Were Flat in September Compared to August, Up 8.2% Over Last Year

U.S. retail sales were “virtually unchanged” in September compared to last month, but were still well above last year’s levels.

Total retail sales were $684 billion in September, according to a monthly report from the U.S. Census Bureau. This marked an ±0.5% change from August, which were amended to reflect $684 billion. However, sales were up 8.2% compared with September 2021.

September’s numbers follow the 0.4% monthly and 9.4% yearly increases in August. On a three-month moving average, sales were up 9.2% year-over-year.

“September retail sales confirm that even with rising interest rates, persistent inflation, political uncertainty and volatile global markets, consumers are spending for household priorities,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement on Friday. “As we enter the holiday season, shoppers are increasingly seeking deals and discounts to make their dollars stretch, and retailers are already meeting this demand.”

The same Census report on Friday saw that between July 2022 through September 2022, total sales were up 9.2% compared to the same period in 2021. The spending numbers are not adjusted for inflation, which explains certain large spending surges in categories like gasoline, where sales were up 20.6% from September 2021.

Within retail, sales were down 0.1% from August, and up 7.8% from September 2021. Non-store retailer sales were up 11.6% from last year.

According to Shay, removing China tariffs, enacting smart immigration reform to address the worker shortage and increasing investments in supply chain resiliency can and will have an immediate impact on consumers and the economy. “The Biden administration must enact policy measures to relieve inflationary pressure and lower costs for American families,” Shay added.

This report comes one day after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data showing inflation pressures continued to weigh on the U.S. economy as shelter and food costs continued to rise in September.

The bureau’s latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) saw prices increase 0.4% from last month and 8.2% from the same time last year. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, the Core CPI rose 0.6% from August and 6.6% from the same month in 2021.

The Federal Reserve has enacted multiple interest rate hikes this year aimed at reducing inflation and bringing the economy back into balance. Markets expect the central bank to raise rates up to 1.5 percentage points more through the end of the year.

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