Retail sales have steadily grown since the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest monthly report from the National Retail Federation (NRF).
According to NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, retail sales have increased month-over-month since June, in addition to rising above the year-over-year total during that same time period.
Kleinmetz also cited U.S. Commerce Department statistics, showing that consumer spending grew one percent in August over its July total. The August consumer spending figures were down 1.9 percent compared to 2019’s figures. By contrast, in April 2020, consumer spending dropped 16.1 percent.
“Strong growth in retail sales during the last few months points to the resiliency of consumers even in this disruptive pandemic environment,” Kleinhenz said in a statement. “Taking in all the evidence available, the U.S. economic recovery has progressed more quickly than generally expected.”
He also referred to a report from a Harvard research Project called Opportunity Insights, which showed that consumer spending had improved as of October 11 compared to March 2020. By October 11, consumer spending was only 3.7 percent lower than the numbers in January. In March, though, consumer spending had plummeted to 33 percent.
In this study, high-income households were shown to have reduced spending by an average of 7.2 percent, but low-income households were spending 1.1 percent more compared to January.
Kleinmetz expressed optimism for the holiday spending season, making reference to increased savings reports. According to Kleinmetz, the U.S. savings rate has been in the double digits for six consecutive months, and was 14.4 percent in August.
“That means savings are available if consumers decide to spend more aggressively, potentially offsetting the loss of government payments,” he said.
The trade association is holding off on releasing its holiday spending forecast. However, a survey by Prosper Insights and Analytics indicates that consumers will spend roughly $50 less during the holidays this year compared to last year. The survey showed that individuals will spend an average of $997.79, focusing on others instead of purchases for themselves.
Arkansas mega-retailer Walmart has reported major retail surges since the beginning of the pandemic. In its second quarter report, the Bentonville company showed a 9.3 percent increase in same-store sales and a substantial 97 percent increase in U.S. e-commerce sales.