Tech and Appliance Retail Sales Slip 2.9% in August: Feds

By Alan Wolf

The dog days of summer apparently took a bite out of some consumer electronics and major appliance dealers.

According to the latest monthly retail sales tabulations from the U.S. Census Bureau, sell-through at tech and appliance stores was down 2.9 percent in August from a year ago, to $8.2 billion, unadjusted for seasonal variation and trading day differences.

On a month-over-month basis, sales were flat from July when seasonally adjusted, the Census Bureau report shows.

Other sectors fared better: Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.1 percent year-over-year and slipped 0.5 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted, the data showed.

The story is somewhat different for BrandSource dealers, who are outpacing the appliance and mattress sectors and gaining market share thanks to aggressive digital marketing and higher-end assortments, AVB Merchandising GM Chad Evans reported at last month’s Convention & Expo.

Total August retail sales – including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants – were up 4.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year and edged up 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from July, the Census Bureau said, while online and other non-store sales rocketed 14.3 percent year-over-year and rose 1.6 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

Despite the mixed results, the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association, took the report as a positive. “While consumer attitudes about the economy indicate some retreating optimism, the bottom line is that consumer spending remained resilient in August and continued to be a key contributor to U.S. economic growth,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz.

“Trends remain strong,” he continued, “but August grew somewhat slower than July, which could reflect consumers’ concerns about the unpredictability of trade policy. It is too early to assess the impact of the new tariffs that took effect at the beginning of this month, but they do present downside risks to household spending.”

New 15 percent tariffs on a wide range of consumer goods from China took effect Sept. 1 and are scheduled to be expanded to additional goods on Dec. 15, covering a total of about $300 billion in imports. In addition, 25 percent tariffs already in effect on $250 billion worth of imports are set to increase to 30 percent on Oct. 15.

Related: BrandSource Prepares for Tariff Repercussions

YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.