June Retail Sales Surge 7.5%, Higher Than Expected

A bartender wearing a facemask makes a drink at a restaurant in Austin, Texas, June 26, 2020. - Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas have spiked in recent weeks …
SERGIO FLORES/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in June even as coronavirus infections climbed in many states that began to reopen their economies.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales rose 7.5 percent last month, easily surpassing the 5.2 percent gain expected by economists.  Compared with a year ago, retail sales are 1.1 percent higher.

Excluding autos and parts, retail sales were above 7.3 percent, above the forecast 5.2 percent. Excluding sales at gasoline stations, retail sales rose 7.0 percent. Excluding both, sales were up 6.7 percent.

Sales by autos and parts by dealers rose 8.7 percent and are 7.5 percent higher than a year ago.

The below-the-headlines details paint a picture of an economy reeling from the pandemic, with sales surging by record amounts after historic declines in March and April.

Stores that had been shut down because of anti-pandemic measures saw huge month-over-month jumps in sales. Furniture store sales jumped 32.5 percent compared with May but remain 3.5 below last year’s level. Sales at electronic stores jumped 37.4 percent but were 12.7 percent below a year ago.

Sales at clothing stores soared 105.1 percent. These were 23.1 percent below the year-ago level.

Department stores sales jumped 19.8 percent but are still 10.1 percent below last year’s levels.

Sales at restaurants and bars jumped 20 percent. Even with that increase, sales are 26.3 percent below the year-ago level.

Online sales, which were hugely boosted during the lockdowns, fell 2.4 percent in June compared with May. But sales are still 23.5 percent above a year ago.

Retail sales soared 18.2 percent in May, the largest gain since the government started collecting the data in 1992.

 

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