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Economic, US News

1,000-Word Charts: U.S. Retail Sales

Alex Carrick
1,000-Word Charts: U.S. Retail Sales

Due to its complexity, much of the subject matter concerning the economy requires detailed editorial commentary, often supported by relevant tables and graphs.

At the same time, though, there are many topics (e.g., relating to demographics, housing starts, etc.) that cry out for compelling ‘shorthand’ visualizations.

Whichever path is followed, the point of the journey, almost always, is to reach a bottom line or two.

To provide additional value, ConstructConnect is now pleased to offer an ongoing series of 1,000-word charts.

These will help readers sort out the ‘big picture’ more clearly.

These 1,000-word charts look at the latest retail sales figures in the U.S. (as of June and July 2021).

Graph 1: Total Retail Sales in the U.S. Monthly
Non-store mainly Internet retail sales, so strong during most of the pandemic (i.e., in Jan 2021, they maxed out at +34.5% y/y), have eased off lately. In July, they were +5.9% y/y, but -3.1% m/m.
The last data points are for July, 2021.
Adjusted for seasonality and trading day differences, but not for price changes (i.e., figures are in ‘current’ dollars).
Data source: Census Bureau.
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Graph 2: U.S. Retail & Food Services Sales Y/Y – July 2021
Non-store (e.g., Internet) retail sales,  which were so strong earlier in the  pandemic, are easing off a bit. In June, they were +12.0% y/y. (In Jan 2021, they maxed out at +17.0% y/y.)
‘Current dollars’ means not adjusted for inflation. Underlying numbers are seasonally adjusted & not ‘smoothed’.
Data source: U.S. Census Bureau.
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Graph 3: Sales by U.S. Building Material & Supplies Dealers
The background numbers for this graph are a subset derived from a broader designation that includes garden equipment. Also, the reported data for sales by 'building material & supplies dealers' alone is always a month behind. Latest (Jun 2021) results were +7.0% y/y, but -2.2% m/m.
Data source: Census Bureau.
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Graph 4: U.S. Home-Related Retail Sales Y/Y
In July 2021, 'furniture' as a share of total retail was 2.2%; 'electronics', 1.6%; & 'bldg materials & garden equipment', 7.1%. Sum = 10.9%. ('Garden equip' is only about 1/6 of 'bldg materials & garden equip'.)
*”Year over year” is each month versus the same month of the previous year.
Based on ‘current’ (i.e., not adjusted for inflation) dollars. Latest data points are for July, 2021.
Adjustments are for seasonal variation, holiday and trading day differences, but not for price changes.
Data source: U.S. Census Bureau (Department of Commerce).
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Graph 5: U.S. Sales by Food Services & Drinking Places
'Bar and restaurant' sales in July were +38.4% year over year and +1.7% month to month.
Latest data point is for July, 2021.
Adjusted for seasonal variation, holiday and trading day differences, but not for price changes.
Data source: U.S. Census Bureau (Department of Commerce).
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Graph 6: U.S. Monthly Sales by General Merchandise Stores vs Non-Store Retailers
(i.e., Internet Platforms & E-Auction Houses)
In July 2021, 'general merchandise store' sales of $68.5 billion were +10.9% year over year but -0.1% month to month. Nonstore retail sales of $85.4 billion were +5.9% y/y but -3.1% m/m.
Latest data point is for July, 2021.
Adjusted for seasonal variation, holiday and trading day differences, but not for price changes.
Data source: U.S. Census Bureau (Department of Commerce).
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Please click on the following link to view the latest retail sales charts for the U.S. and Canada: CanaData Forecaster Charts & Tables – Retail Sales


Alex Carrick is Chief Economist for ConstructConnect. He has delivered presentations throughout North America on the U.S., Canadian and world construction outlooks. Mr. Carrick has been with the company since 1985. Links to his numerous articles are featured on Twitter @ConstructConnx, which has 50,000 followers.

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