June Retail Sales Up 8%, But COVID-19 Threat Looms Large

SurveysJul 17, 2020

June Retail Sales Up 8%, But COVID-19 Threat Looms Large

A rise in COVID-19 cases combined with rising unemployment numbers is a threat to economic recovery, said the National Retail Federation.

Retail sales were on the rise in June as store reopenings continued, but an increase in COVID-19 cases have led some to close again.

New York—U.S. retail sales were on the rise in June, but a climb in COVID-19 cases and unemployment numbers remain a threat to the sector.

Retail sales, including food sales, climbed 8 percent month-over-month in June to $524.3 billion, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce Thursday morning.

The results came in ahead of the 5 percent increase economists had expected.

In May, retail sales climbed 18 percent month-over-month following a 15 percent drop in April.

June sales were up 1.1 percent compared with June 2019, the first year-over-year gain since February, near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED CONTENT: Independent Jewelers See Sales Grow in June
“The retail sales numbers from last month were very encouraging and reflect continued progress in the right direction,” said National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay in a press release.

The NRF also calculates monthly retail sales, narrowing in on core retail and excluding auto sales, gas stations, and restaurants.

Its calculations show June sales were up 5 percent seasonally adjusted from May and up 9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Looking at the commerce department’s data by category, clothing and accessories stores saw the strongest sales gains in June, up 105 percent month-over-month.

Shay said consumers are happy to be back out in their communities and have money to spend as a result of congressional relief packages, but noted retailers are remaining cautious about safety in light of the recent spikes in infection rates.

The rise of COVID-19 cases, especially in states in the South and West, has prompted businesses to pause reopenings or close again, sending unemployment numbers higher.

That uncertainty doesn’t bode well for an economic recovery.

Retail spending is driving an economic recovery, said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, but how long retail spending will improve is directly related to the spread of COVID-19 cases.

“All eyes are on the infections that are accelerating in many parts of the country and they pose a serious threat to recovery,” he said.

Florida, a hotspot for the virus in recent weeks, had more than 315,000 cases and 4,677 deaths as of July 16.

NRF co-signed a letter to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. governors earlier this month calling for a national mask standard in the hopes of slowing the spread of the virus.

“Recoveries do not proceed in a straight line and no two are alike,” Kleinhenz said. “The current economy is far from normal and
will require a lengthy period to absorb job losses and build up to where it was before.”

Though government aid for consumers and businesses has helped, Kleinhenz said additional relief will be needed.

A new coronavirus relief package may be in the works when Congress returns from its holiday recess July 20.
Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

The Latest

MajorsOct 22, 2021
These Jewelry Companies Are Among the World’s Most Valuable Brands

That’s according to Interbrand, which just released its 2021 list of 100 Best Global Brands.

WatchesOct 22, 2021
New Citizen Campaign Shines Light on Solar Power

The “Purposeful Power” campaign will raise money for Everybody Solar, which provides solar power to nonprofits.

CollectionsOct 22, 2021
The Artistry 2022 Catalog Is Out

It’s full of bestsellers to stock up on.

Brought to you by
Buying a Diamond is More Than Knowing the 4C’s

Buyers may be excited about online diamond deals, but there are uncertainties surrounding the authenticity and clarity of the diamonds.

CollectionsOct 22, 2021
Piece of the Week: Nouvel Heritage’s Mood Necklace

The brand’s signature bangle gets a necklace companion.

Weekly QuizOct 22, 2021
This Week's Quiz
Test your knowledge of jewelry news from the week of Oct. 18-22, 2021.
Take the Quiz
SourcingOct 21, 2021
This Coffee-Table Book Is the Perfect Present for Diamond Lovers

The tome offers an appreciation for the stone through the voices of celebrities, designers, and other diamond lovers.

ColumnistsOct 21, 2021
Squirrel Spotting: It’s a Diamond Moment!

It’s no doubt diamond sales are booming, but why? Peter Smith explores the complicated reasons why consumers want the stones right now.

Brought to you by
Viva Italia! Why the JCK Italian Pavilion Was a Sight Worth Seeing at JCK Las Vegas

One of the highlights of the JCK show in Las Vegas has always been the Italian Pavilion, buzzing with excitement and elegance.

IndependentsOct 21, 2021
Quiz: How Closely Have You Been Reading Our Columns?

Brush up on the finer points of customer budgets, recruiting new employees and driving traffic to a new website with this quick test.