Economy Watch: Retail Sales Edge Down in June

Most retail categories lost a bit in sales for the month, with a few dropping more than a little, according to the Census Bureau. Department stores, sporting goods, and grocery stores were among the retail sectors with declining sales.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. retail and food services sales for June came in at $473.5 billion, a decrease of 0.2 percent compared with May, but 2.8 percent higher than June 2016, the Census Bureau reported on Friday. The April 2017 to May 2017 change was revised from down 0.3 percent to down 0.1 percent.

Most retail categories lost a bit in sales for the month, with a few dropping more than a little, such as department stores, down 0.7 percent, and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, down 0.6 percent. Grocery store sales were off 0.5 percent compared with May.

Compared with last year, retail sales were generally stronger. Car sales were up 4.7 percent, while building material and garden equipment supply sales gained 5.1 percent. On the other hand, sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores suffered sales loses (probably because of the Internet) of 8.9 percent compared with last year. Nonstore retailers—online sales—were up 0.4 percent for the month and 9.2 percent for the year.

The bureau adjusts for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, which tends to make sales figures at gas stations particularly volatile. For the month, gas station sales were down 1.3 percent as prices dropped, and up only 0.3 percent compared with last year