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July Retail Growth Brightens End-of-Year Outlook

Expert predicts modest sales increases in fall, winter.

With officials cautioning that an unstable economy and high unemployment rates could dampen online sales during the second half of 2012, a new report suggests sales are increasing—and that they’ll likely continue to grow, although modestly.

The National Retail Federation reports that retail sales increased 0.8 percent during the month of July, compared to June, and 1.2 percent year over year. The increase breaks three consecutive months of declining sales in overall retail, and the gains show promise for the end of 2012.

“Consumers are spending, albeit cautiously,” says Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist. “Retail sales continue to remain resilient in the face of bleak international news, with retailers on track with sustained growth year over year, and year to date.”

He adds that retail sales will continue to experience “modest growth” in the fall and winter.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores saw the biggest increase in June with a 1.6-percent month-over-month increase, and 8-percent year-over-year increase. Clothing and accessories stores saw sales increases of 0.8 percent month over month, and 2.6 percent year over year. Electronics and appliance stores saw a similar rise of 0.9 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

Last week, researcher comScore reported that retail online sales grew by 15 percent to reach $43.2 billion during the year’s second quarter. However, it cautioned that the economy and high unemployment rates could dampen the double-digit growth trend online sales have seen.

The new NRF report gives merchants hope.

“Halfway through the back-to-school season, retailers are seeing positive signs that consumers are spending,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF. “However, sustainable retail growth hinges on Congress and the administration’s ability to make smart decisions about the economy and Americans’ confidence in our long-term recovery.”

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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