Washington - July sales at electronics and appliance stores fell 14.3 percent year-over-year, according to figures released today by the U.S. Commerce Department.
The decline outpaced that of the total retail industry, which fell 5 percent last month.
On a month-to-month basis, sales at CE and appliance stores slipped 1.4 percent from June on a seasonally adjusted basis.
The government's monthly retail sales report showed weakness across the board, reflecting continued consumer restraint amid the uncertain economy, and dampening hopes for a pick-up in back-to-school sales.
Total retail sales (excluding gas stations, car dealerships and restaurants) fell 5 percent in July, and declined 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month.
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Sales at general merchandise stores similarly decreased 0.8 percent adjusted from the previous month and decreased 3.4 percent unadjusted over last year.
"Many families postponed the bulk of their back-to-school shopping this year, possibly waiting to take advantage of their state sales tax holiday or hoping for additional discounts," observed Rosalind Wells, chief economist for the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group. "Hopefully, retailers' aggressive promotions and reduced inventory levels will make for a better August and shield retailers from a disappointing season."
The report coincided with the release of Wal-Mart's second quarter results, which showed flat earnings and total U.S. comp store declines of 1.2 percent, attributable to price deflation, currency fluctuation and weaker-than-expected demand, the retailer said.