Hot Topics:

Back-to-School Lifts August Sales Slightly

Shoppers continue to be cautious when spending, officials say.

With consumers decorating dorm rooms, buying new clothes, and stocking up on back-to-school supplies, sales figures in August rose slightly.

The month saw a modest 3.8-percent increase, year over year, and a 0.2-percent increase compared to July figures. Overall, many stores saw modest year-over-year increases, but lower, or even declining totals when compared to July sales, reports the National Retail Federation. In August, the organization reported that back-to-school shoppers were delaying their purchases, and choosing to shop online for bargains.

“While retailers continue to witness sustained sales growth, consumers remain cautious about their discretionary expenditures,” explains Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for NRF.

The biggest sales gains

Furniture and home décor saw the biggest sales gains, year over year, at 9.3 percent. Compared to July, those sales increased just 0.3 percent, NRF reports. Clothing and accessory stores had the second biggest gain, year over year, with a 7.8-percent increase. However, month over month, they saw a 0.1-percent decrease. Sporting goods, hobby, books and music stores had a 6.6-percent increase, year over year, and flat sales compared to July.

Sales of electronics increased 2.1 percent, year over year, and decreased 1.4 percent, month over month, the organization adds.

Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF, says retailers are showing “strength and resiliency” during hard economic times.

“However, consumers and retail companies continue to face many questions and challenges, from stubbornly high unemployment and stagnant income to depressed housing prices and the looming fiscal cliff, all playing into overall economic uncertainty and declining consumer confidence,” he adds.

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.

Newsletter Signup