Retail and food service sales rose 1.2% in July as store reopenings continued. However, the pickup was much less than the 8.4% rise in June. It was expected that June’s increase would slow as more businesses returned to normal operations, but the surge of the coronavirus in the South and West in July likely also contributed to the slowdown. The largest sales jumps were seen at electronics and appliances stores (+22.9%), miscellaneous (+6.2%), clothing (+5.7%) and restaurants (+5.0%). Both grocery stores and e-commerce sellers held onto their gains, each rising a small amount from an already elevated level. Although sales of cars and building materials declined in July, they remain at elevated levels as well.
Sales are near or above precrisis February levels for most store categories now. After consumers socked away more savings in recent months, they have cash to spend on big-ticket items such as cars and home