The Strategist

US retail sales unexpectedly up in August thanks to online shopping

09/17/2021 - 09:29

US retail sales rose 0.7% month-on-month to $618.7bn in August, the US Department of Commerce said on Thursday, 16 September.

Tim Reckmann
Tim Reckmann
August's increase came as a surprise - analysts polled by Reuters expected a 0.8% drop in sales amid the spread of the delta strain of coronavirus. In July, retail sales fell 1.8% (based on revised Commerce Department figures).

The growth was helped by good online sales, with online sales up 5.3% in August. Furniture and housewares sales rose by 3.7%, consumer goods by 3.5% and food and beverages by 1.8%. 

Car sales fell the most, by 3.6%, due to the shortage of chips and the resulting decline in supply. Sales of electronics and household appliances also fell (by 3.1%), as did sales of books and sports and hobby goods (by 2.7%). Café and restaurant sales remained at the level of July - thus 31.9% higher than in August 2020.

"Consumer spending will continue to drive the economy to recovery," commented a PNC Financial senior economist.