The Associated Press reports that numbers issued by the US Commerce Department indicate that retail sales were flat during July compared to the previous month and that, when autos and auto parts are excluded, retail sales rose 0.4 percent during the month.
This follows a June in which retail sales grew 0.8 percent.
Compared with 12 months ago, overall retail sales rose 10.3% in July.
The AP writes that "America’s consumers, whose spending accounts for nearly 70% of U.S. economic activity, have remained mostly resilient even with year-over-year inflation near a four-decade high, rising economic uncertainties and the surging costs of mortgages and borrowing money. Still, overall spending has weakened, and it has shifted increasingly toward things like groceries, and away less necessary things like electronics, furniture and new clothes … Inflation continues to pose a severe hardship for many families. Though gasoline prices have fallen from their heights, food, rent, used cars and other necessities have become far more expensive, beyond whatever wage increases most workers have notched."
NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation (NRF), released a statement saying that "consumer spending was an encouraging signal as the economy kicked off the third quarter. Nonetheless, inflation is still disturbingly high even as it eases and is the most important challenge for consumers and retailers. The future path of inflation remains a key factor for the economy and monetary policy as the Federal Reserve works to bring price increases under control."