Retail sales increased in June — but surge in infections could signal trouble ahead

April saw the sharpest monthly drop in sales, followed by the biggest jump in May

National /
Jul.July 16, 2020 09:26 AM
The monthly gains are a positive sign for the retail sector (Getty)

The monthly gains are a positive sign for the retail sector (Getty)

Retail sales increased in the U.S. by 7.5 percent in June, exceeding expectations as stores across the country began to reopen.

The total estimated value of the sales was $524.3 billion, statistics released Thursday by the Department of Commerce show. The figures follow a record 17.7 percent jump in May, and June’s dollar volume is the closest to January’s peak of nearly $530 billion.

The monthly gains are a positive sign for the sector, and come after April saw the worst single-month drop on record. The retail sector, battered by shutdowns, was forced to layoff workers in recent months. But new jobless claims held steady, totaling 1.3 million for the week of July 11, according to Labor Department figures also released Thursday.

However, surges in coronavirus cases across the country could cause further complications, as several states hit pause on plans to reopen out of concern for public health.

Overall, total sales between April and June were down 8.1 percent on the same period last year. However, the monthly total in June was slightly up on the previous year.

Among the biggest winners were nonstore retailers, which saw a 23.5 percent year-over-year increase in sales in June, following a 9 percent increase in May.

Sales of building material and gardening equipment were up 17.3 percent from last year.

Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at [email protected]


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