Retail sales rose 1.2% to a record level in July, recovering what was lost in the pandemic. Spending in restaurants and bars was up 5% over June. Electronics and appliances sales were up the most, gaining 22.9% from June. Clothing and apparel sales rose 5.7%, but are down 20.9% from a year ago, according to data released by the Commerce Department.
- Worth Noting: Americans are still holding back on discretionary spending on things like clothes: apparel spending was up over June but was nonetheless 20% below July 2019 levels, spelling ongoing problems for traditional retailers. Economists say the outlook for August is not nearly as positive, and sales will be flat or lower because supplemental unemployment benefits paying individuals $600 a week has run out.
- Be Smart: Online shopping has been the clear winner during the pandemic. Walmart, Amazon, grocery delivery company Instacart and other online retailers have reported skyrocketing demand. Amazon, for one, doubled profits between April and June, netting $5.2 billion despite spending billions on coronavirus-related costs and hired almost 200,000 new workers. [CNBC+WSJ+Reuters]