Washington - Sales for CE and majap specialty dealers rose 4.3
percent in August to $8.6 billion, according the Commerce Department's latest
monthly retail tally.
The figures, adjusted for seasonal variations and holiday and
trading-day differences, but not for price changes, also show a 1.1 percent sales
decline from July.
Nevertheless, the CE/majap channel outpaced aggregate retail
sales last month, which rose 0.5 percent year over year excluding gas stations,
restaurants and car dealerships.
The government figures, which are skewed toward large big-box
chains, contradict reports from the CE and majap trades of anemic summer sales,
particularly in August.
According to separate studies by the National Retail Federation
(NRF) and The NPD Group, August results were buoyed by moderate back-to-school
sales, aggressive retail promotions and state sales tax holidays.
"Most Americans are in a much better financial position than a
year ago, but they are still spending cautiously, looking for bargains and
comparing prices before buying," said NRF president/CEO Matthew Shay.
Added Perry James, president of office supplies and non-games
software at NPD: "We are seeing signs of a slow and moderate recovery in the
school supplies market. Consumers are sticking with the necessities on their
back-to-school lists, but are willing to shop around to get a better deal. It's
imperative for retailers and manufacturers to make sure they have the right
products at the right price and keep those consumers in one store for their