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WASHINGTON — Retail sales grew in June after dipping month-to-month in May, in a sign that the industry is benefiting from an improving economy.

Retail sales rose 0.6% in June, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, which also revised data for May to show sales falling 1.7% instead of declining 1.3% as previously reported. Many economists had expected retail sales to fall again in June as consumers took advantage of a reopening economy to spend more on services.

The National Retail Federation’s calculation of retail sales — which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail — showed that June sales were up 0.8% seasonally adjusted from May and up 12.1% unadjusted year-over-year. That compared with a month-over-month decline of 1.9% and a year-over-year increase of 16.5% in May. NRF’s numbers were up 19.3% unadjusted year-over-year on a three-month moving average.

“Continued growth in June retail sales shows enduring strength in the American consumer,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Heading into the back-to-school season, we expect record sales as families purchase electronics, shoes and backpacks for in-person learning this year. However, as the drop in monthly auto sales indicates, retailers are facing product shortages and supply chain constraints. We urge Congress and the administration to enact meaningful, bipartisan infrastructure legislation that is critical for retailers who depend on a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system to drive further economic growth.”

June sales saw a boost from the annual Amazon Prime Day promotion and the competing deals offered by many other big retailers. Record-high temperatures in some parts of the country and tropical storms in others may have affected sales, and the methodology the Census Bureau uses to adjust results for seasonal variations may have affected the numbers reported by the agency.

For the first six months of the year, sales were up 16.4% over the same period in 2020. With the rate of growth expected to slow in the second half of the year, that is consistent with NRF’s revised forecast that 2021 retail sales should grow between 10.5% and 13.5% over 2020 levels.

“We’re continuing to see an impressive recovery,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The economy and consumption are particularly sensitive to government policy, and the boost we saw from government support earlier in the year is continuing to show benefits. Reopening of both stores and the overall economy has progressed, and even higher prices seen in some retail categories reflecting the push-and-pull of supply chain challenges haven’t proven to be a deterrent to spending. As more people get vaccinated and get out, some of the growth will shift to services rather than retail but there’s enough momentum to support both.”

June sales were up year-over-year across the board, led by increases at clothing, electronics and furniture stores. Specifics from key retail sectors include:

  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 2.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 49.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 3.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 36.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 3.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 17.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 1.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 13.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Online and other non-store sales were up 1.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 12% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 1.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 11% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores were up 1.9% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 10.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were down 1.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 7% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 3.7% unadjusted year-over-year.