US retail sales jump in June as Americans dine out and shop

Retail sales rose more than expected in June as Americans opened up their wallets again after the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The reopening of the United States economy, especially those businesses hit hardest by the absence of social activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, is helping bolster sales [File: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg]
The reopening of the United States economy, especially those businesses hit hardest by the absence of social activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, is helping bolster sales [File: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg]

U.S. retail sales rose unexpectedly in June, reflecting fairly broad gains across spending categories and wrapping up a solid quarter for household demand.

The value of overall retail purchases advanced 0.6% last month following a downwardly revised 1.7% drop in May, Commerce Department figures showed Friday. Excluding autos, sales jumped 1.3% in June.

The June increase in overall sales topped all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists. The median projection called for a 0.3% decrease in June sales, and a 0.4% gain excluding autos.

The value of retail sales has risen sharply this year, supported by government stimulus, elevated savings and vaccinations. Consumers are beginning to shift more of their purchases toward services. Combined with still-solid retail demand, economists forecast household spending expanded at a robust pace in the second quarter.

Nine of 13 retail categories posted increases in June sales, including solid gains at electronics and appliance outlets, clothing stores and restaurants.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers fell 2% in June, likely in response to limited inventory as automakers face a supply chain crunch. A global semiconductor shortage has restrained vehicle production and pushed up prices.

So-called control group sales, which are used to calculate gross domestic product and exclude food services, auto dealers, building materials stores and gasoline stations, rose 1.1% in June after a sharp downward revision in May.

The reopening of the economy, especially those businesses hit hardest by the absence of social activity during the pandemic, is helping bolster sales.

PepsiCo Inc. reported its fastest sales growth in at least a decade, benefiting from consumers returning to restaurants, bars and stadiums. Meanwhile, Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants Inc. boosted sales 80% last quarter — returning to the revenue levels it saw before the pandemic.

Digging Deeper

  • Clothing-store sales rose 2.6% last month, and 47.1% from a year ago
  • Electronics sales increased 3.3% and were up 37.3% from June 2020
  • Receipts at restaurants and bars climbed 2.3%
  • Sales at non-store retailers, which include e-commerce, advanced 1.2% in June
  • Gas station receipts climbed 2.5%. The retail figures aren’t adjusted for price changes, so sales reflect both changes in costs and demand
Source: Bloomberg

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