Retails Sales On the Rise

August 13, 2003
Posted at 7:41 p.m. CDT

. -- Retail sales for the months of May and June were up. Now, for a third month, July numbers are continuing that trend.

According to a Commerce Department report, retail sales jumped 1.4% in the month of July. In the U.S., consumer spending has been the main force keeping the economy going. It has accounted for two-thirds of our nations economic activity. New car purchases helped fuel the increase.

"Versus 2002, we're up 26%," said Jonesboro Central Toyota Salesman Steve Merideth. "Several factors are probably key in this, one of which is that there a little more consumer confidence right now in the market. People are re-financing their homes and have a little extra cash to spend and they're putting that towards buying new vehicles."

The increase is larger than many analysts expected. Even when auto sales are excluded, sales still rose eight-tenths of one-percent. Some of that percentage can be attributed to back to school appliance and clothing purchases by consumers at retailers like Wal-Mart.

"A lot of the college students that are moving back in from different towns are coming in and buying their refrigerators, their microwaves, and their appliances to get set up in their dorms," said Wal-Mart Customers Service Manager Jennifer Bartelt. "They're coming in and buying that stuff, also kids are coming in and buying clothes. We have the new Levis Strauss line that premiered last month, so they're coming in and looking at that."

Also, the government revised its sales figures for both May and June, adding greater percentages to the increased retail showing.

As for new car sales, Steve Merideth says, "The momentum's strong, I don't look for it to stop."

Jennifer Bartelt does expect any changes in the purchasing of appliances and clothing either. "It's getting to the busier season, holidays are coming up, so everybody's coming in and buying more."