Retail sales increased 7.5% in June, the U.S. Census Bureau reported on Thursday.

The increase comes on the heels of sales skyrocketing by 18% in May as states began to reopen their economies.

May’s increase came on the heels of retail sales contracting by a record 14.7% in April and 8.3% in March.

Economists projected that retail sales would increase 5.2% for June.

The Census Bureau report shows that retail and food services sales for June were $524.3 billion, which is not only a 7.5% increase over last month, but also a 1.1% increase in sales when compared to June 2019. Non-store retailers, such as Amazon, had sales that were up 23.5% from June 2019.

Still, total sales from April to June were down 8.1% from the same period a year ago.

One of the hardest-hit sectors in June were the clothing and clothing accessories stores with sales over 39% lower when compared to the same month in 2019. Department stores sales were off nearly 20% when compared to June from last year.

One bright spot in the report are grocery stores, which had a 13% increase in sales when compared to June 2019.

As reported above, Thursday’s Census Bureau report shows that sales have increased for two consecutive months since the pandemic forced states to shut down their economies in March. But recent spikes in coronavirus infections in several areas of the country could force the retail sector to shut down again.

The number of cases in the United States hit 3.5 million on Wednesday. The number of deaths from the disease has surpassed 130,000. Some states have paused or reversed reopening plans for their local economies. This could have a chilling effect on retail sales in the not too distant future.

Author: Jay Heflin, Business Editor

Source: Washington Examiner: Retail sales increased 7.5% in June, beating economists’ expectations

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