Retail Sales Crash as Inflation and Delta Variant Fear Ravage America

Vice President Joe Biden eats ice cream during a visit to Little Man Ice Cream, in Denver, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Retail sales declined by more than expected in July as consumer confidence crashed amid rising coronavirus infections and rapid inflation.

Sales fell 1.1 percent in July, worse than the 0.2 percent decline expected, data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed Tuesday. A month earlier, sales climbed 0.6 percent.

Sales of cars and trucks have been heavily constrained by a lack of supply due to a shortage of microchips. In July, sales fell 3.9 percent.

A car dealership stands empty in Laurel, Maryland  as many car dealerships across the country are running low on new vehicles as a computer chip shortage has caused production at many vehicle manufactures to nearly stop. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) 

Excluding autos, sales were down 0.4 percent. Economists had forecast a gain of 0.2 percent.

Sales climbed 2.4 percent in gas stations, reflecting higher gas prices.

Excluding autos and gasoline, sales were down 0.7 percent. Expectations were for a 0.3 percent decline.

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA – JULY 11: Fuel prices posted at over USD 6.00 a gallon are displayed at the Furnace Creek Fuel gas station on July 11, 2021 in Death Valley National Park, California.  (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Sales at clothing stores fell 2.6 percent. Sales at sporting goods stores dropped 1.9 percent. Department store sales were down 0.3 percent.

Nonstore retailers, which is the category for online sales, fell 3.1 percent.

Grocery store sales fell, as did sales in furniture stores. Home and gardening supply store sales also dropped.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JUNE 11: Baseball fans congregate at Sluggers sports bar across from Wrigley Field before the start of the nearly-sold-out matchup between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Sales were up 1.7 percent in bars and restaurants and 0.3 percent in electronics and appliance stores.

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