June retail sales see modest gains, reports Dept. of Commerce

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor · July 16, 2020

United States June retail sales saw both sequential and annual gains, according to data issued today by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Total retail sales—at $524.3 billion—were up 7.5% compared to May and were up 1.1% annually. And total retail sales from April through June, were down 8.1% compared to the same period a year ago.

Commerce reported that June retail trade sales saw a 6.4% increase over May and were up 5% annually, with nonstore retailers, which includes e-commerce activity and has been boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic, saw a 23.5% annual gain. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers saw a 17.3% annual gain.

In a research note, Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData Retail, observed that despite the lingering impact of the coronavirus, June was a month when Americans returned to the retail economy and opened their wallets.

“However, a lot of the cash extracted from those wallets came from government stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment payments, which is one of the reasons the sector had a good month despite extremely high unemployment and relatively weak consumer sentiment,” he wrote. “The cash received by consumers, along with the reopening of physical retail, meant that many purchases postponed during the lockdown period were finally made. The materialization of this latent demand helped the retail sector offset some of its losses – although overall sales for April, May and June were still down by 8% over the same period in 2019 showing the sector has some way to go before it completely climbs out of the trough.”

July 16, 2020