Retail sales and jobs growth remained strong in August, according to the National Retail Federation.
August retail sales increased 0.1% seasonally adjusted over July and 5% year-over-year as the economy continued to grow despite concerns about the growing trade war. NRF’s sales numbers do not include automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.
“Consumers are still in the driver’s seat,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz says. “Retail sales remain strong thanks to a solid labor market, accelerating wage growth and consumer optimism, which helps to power the consumer spending gains we are seeing.”
The three-month moving average was also up 4.9% over the same period a year ago. The August results build on improvement seen in July, which was up 0.4% monthly from June and 4.9% year-over-year.
NRF also notes that retail industry employment in August increased by 89,100 jobs unadjusted over the same time last year in spite of a seasonally adjusted drop of 9,700 jobs from July.
“The strong overall job growth across industries reflects the tight labor market but also shows that the economy is strong,” Kleinhenz observes.
“Hiring is an important driver of consumer confidence and a confident consumer is a confident spender. Consumers are continuing to drive the economy forward, but the developing trade war remains a threat to the progress we’re seeing.”
Kleinhenz says the monthly drop was not a cause for concern because large employment fluctuations are typically seen during the summer months. The year-over-year increase shows the persistent strength and health of the retail industry, which continues to boast a sizeable number of job openings, he explains.