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Clothing Stores Fall Behind in Uneven Retail Recovery

This is a syndicated repost published with the permission of Statista | Infographics. To view original, click here. Opinions herein are not those of the Wall Street Examiner or Lee Adler. Reposting does not imply endorsement. The information presented is for educational or entertainment purposes and is not individual investment advice.

Despite the expiration of the weekly supplement to unemployment benefits at the end of July, U.S. consumer spending continued to bounce back in August, albeit at a slower pace than before. According to preliminary estimates published by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday, seasonally adjusted retail and food services sales amounted to $537.5 billion last month, up more than 30 percent from its April low and 2.5 percent from the same period last year.

While the ongoing bounce back in consumer spending is certainly encouraging, it needs to be noted that the recovery has been uneven and that spending levels are still below pre-crisis levels for many retailers.

As the following chart shows, clothing and accessories stores have been badly impacted by the pandemic, with sales in the three months ended August 2020 more than 20 percent below the same period of 2019. The same is true for food services and drinking places, which saw spending levels 19 percent off last year’s total and department stores, which trailed last year’s sales for the months of June, July and August by 16 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum, nonstore retailers, sporting goods and hobby stores as well as building material and garden dealers have seen double-digit growth rates compared to 2019 spending levels over the past three months, as consumers shifted much of their spending online and outdoor activities boomed in face of the COVID-19 threat.

This chart shows estimated year-over-year change in retail sales in the U.S. from June through August 2020.

Retail sales growth by category

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