August sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores were 0.7% higher than in July

August sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores were 0.7% higher than in July

US retail sales in August fell from the month before as consumers continued to cut back on discretionary spending, but just-released data shows clothing retailers were one of the few sectors to see a rise in receipts, helped by back-to-school demand. 

According to the latest figures from the US Commerce Department, total August retail sales were down 0.3% from July to a seasonally adjusted US$456.3bn, and up 1.9% from August last year. Excluding the impact of cars, petrol and restaurants, core retail sales slipped 0.1% last month and rose by 2.0% on last year.

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores were up 0.7% month-on-month but slipped 0.3% from July last year. For general merchandise stores, sales were flat with July, but fell 0.7% year-on-year, while department store sales dropped 0.6% month-on-month and declined 5% from the year before. And sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were down 1.4% from the previous month, and up 1.1% year-on-year.

The declines come on top of last month's flat performance when sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores fell 0.5% month-on-month, and were down 1.2% from July last year. 

According to Cowen analyst John Kernan, yesterday's (15 September) results were worse than consensus expectations of flat sales from July. However, he noted: "We are gaining conviction in our view that the consumer will accelerate as weather improves."