WASHINGTON—Sales at the nation’s retailers declined 0.5 percent last month, to a seasonally adjusted total of $360.2 billion.
The overall performance included a 1.1 percent drop in sales and furniture and home-furnishings stores to $7.5 billion. Sales at general-merchandise stores increased 0.2 percent to $50.4 billion, which included a 1.1 percent rise in sales at department stores to $15.6 billion.
“Today’s data shows consumers continue to take a cautious approach towards shopping,” said Matt Shay, president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation, in a statement. “However, growth in key areas such as electronics, apparel and department stores is an encouraging sign as we enter the back-to-school shopping season.”
“Moderate growth these last few months proves that consumer uncertainty remains,” said NRF’s chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz. “A slow- growing economy and high unemployment rates will continue to hinder consumers’ decisions to spend on discretionary items.