Washington — The National Retail Federation painted an uneven picture of the economy based on July’s retail sales figures.
Healthy sales in back-to-school categories helped offset unexpectedly poor sales in furniture stores and building materials. The NRF said this could possibly be a sign that the recent housing boom is coming to a close.
For the month, retail sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, increased 0. 3 percent seasonally adjusted for July, but increased 5 percent year over year.
CE and appliance stores saw sales decrease 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted month to month during July, yet increased 0.8 percent unadjusted year over year.
Furniture and home-furnishing stores saw similar sales fluctuations, with sales decreasing 1.4 seasonally adjusted month to month, but increase 5.1 percent unadjusted year over year.
“Spending has stalled and the economy is stuck in neutral,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Even with modest employment gains and steady consumer confidence, Americans remain in a cautiously positive spending pattern.”