US Retail Sales Rose Again in July

The U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly report shows that sales increased for the third consecutive month.
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Retail and food services sales in the U.S. once again increased in July, rising 1.2 percent from the previous month and 2.7 percent above numbers in July 2019, according to the Census Bureau’s monthly retail sales report released this morning.

Total sales hit $536 billion in July, according to the advance estimates. Retail trade sales rose 0.8 percent from June and 5.8 percent above figures from the same time period last year. Notably, sales at nonstore retailers were up 24.7 percent year-over-year, while food and beverage stores were up 11.1 percent from last year.


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The numbers are another positive sign for the retail sector, which has taken a battering during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In June, advanced estimates from the Census Bureau showed that U.S. retail and food services sales hit $524.3 billion, according to last month’s report. But the revised numbers released today put that total number at $529.4 billion.

June’s numbers followed a sharp rebound of retail sales in May, when figures showed an 18 percent increase—the biggest monthly jump in history—after falling flat in April, when businesses across the country were shuttered during lockdowns. 

Store closures and bankruptcies have continued to garner headlines on a weekly basis. JC Penney, Lord & Taylor, Pier 1, The Gap, and Victoria’s Secret are just some of the brands that have announced bankruptcies or store closures since the onset of the pandemic. Earlier this month, national coffee-and-donut chain Dunkin’ announced it was expecting to close 800 of its locations across the U.S. this year.

While the damage done from COVID-19’s devastating impact on the retail sector continues to unfold, some believe the outcome may have happened anyway. According to a recent Marcus & Millichap report, analysts believe the post-pandemic fallout will mirror an outcome that was already in the works well before the crisis. 

The severity of the economic blow to the economy, both in terms of job losses and the downturn in retail sales, has led to a significant shakeout in the retail sector, but all things considered, it has so far not been as bad as many anticipated,” John Chang, the national director of research services with Marcus & Millichap, told Commercial Property Executive last month, adding that the pandemic has just expedited a retail-market evolution that would have transpired over the next few years.