The back-to-school season sent consumers to the stores in August, picking up everything from sporting goods to electronics. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), August retail sales in the GAFS category (general merchandise stores, clothing and clothing accessories stores, furniture and home furnishings stores, electronics and appliances stores, and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores) increased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from July, and rose 5.1 percent from the same period last year. Augusts solid gain followed three consecutive months of very strong increases in excess of 1.0 percent per month.
August retail sales released Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) were up 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted for the month. Retail sales rose 3.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“Augusts sales were helped by the back-to-school season, favorable weather and an economy that is showing definite signs of picking up momentum,” said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells. “A strong back-to-school season is usually an indicator of good things to come for the rest of the year.”
As expected, the back-to-school season brought solid growth to general merchandise stores, which saw sales increase 1.1 percent adjusted month-over-month and 6.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores grew 1.5 percent adjusted month-over-month and 0.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Electronics and appliances stores also saw high levels of growth in August, rising 1.4 percent adjusted month-over-month and 9.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. College students making dorm or apartment purchases helped increase furniture and home furnishings stores sales 0.7 percent adjusted month-to-month and 5.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.