As Washington debates what — and whether — a Phase 4 bill should be, the economy has continued to grow without any government support. Thanks to the effort to slowly expand the reopening of commerce in most states, consumers continued to increase their retail spending in August, if not quite to the same rate of increase as July.
Thus far, though, it still appears that the gains are mostly on-line rather than at brick-and-mortar stores, but restaurants are making a comeback:
Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for August 2020, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $537.5 billion, an increase of 0.6 percent (± 0.5 percent) from the previous month, and 2.6 percent (± 0.7 percent) above August 2019. Total sales for the June 2020 through August 2020 period were up 2.4 percent (± 0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The June 2020 to July 2020 percent change was revised from up 1.2 percent (± 0.5 percent) to up 0.9 percent (± 0.2 percent).
Retail trade sales were up 0.1 percent (± 0.5 percent)* from July 2020, and 5.1 percent (± 0.7 percent) above last year. Nonstore retailers were up 22.4 percent (± 1.4 percent) from August 2019, while clothing and clothing accessories stores were down 20.4 percent (± 1.9 percent) from last year.