ALEXANDRIA, Va.—U.S. retail sales were unexpectedly strong last month, increasing 0.6% in June, compared with a 1.7% decrease in May, and gas stations, restaurants and bars are benefiting from pent-up demand, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released on Friday.
Sales at gas stations rose 2.5% in June over May as Americans took to the road, but they also spent more at the pump to fill up. Sales in June were up 37% over June 2020, Census Bureau data indicate. The census data combine both inside and outside sales for gas stations and convenience stores into one subsector of retail.
Sales at foodservice establishments and bars rose 2.3% in June, marking the fourth consecutive monthly increase, the government said Friday. Sales at restaurants and bars are up 40.2% from the year-ago month.
Industry watchers expect to see continued strong consumer spending through the end of the year but warn that some of the rise in spending relates to higher inflation. The cost of living is up 5.4% in the past year, which is the fastest pace since 2008, reports MarketWatch.
“Rising inflation also likely lifted total sales in June, especially at gasoline stations,” senior economist Ben Ayers of Nationwide told MarketWatch.
The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the Advance Monthly Retail Trade and Food Services Survey to provide an early estimate of monthly sales by kind of business for retail and foodservice firms located in the United States. Each month, questionnaires are mailed to a probability sample of about 5,500 employer firms selected from the larger Monthly Retail Trade Survey. Advance sales estimates are computed using a link relative estimator.
In-store sales at convenience stores have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, according NACS CSX sales data ending April 2021. Fuel sales also have largely recovered. Finished gasoline supplied, which is tracked by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and is a proxy for supply, was only 1.8% lower the last two weeks of June 2021 than the same period in 2019.
Hear from Chris Rapanick, director of business development for NACS and CSX LLC, on the turnaround in Episode No. 291 of the Convenience Matters podcast, “Examining the Convenience Industry Forecast Using a Crystal Ball and a Rear-View Mirror.”
To see more benchmarking data, the newly released NACS State of the Industry Report® of 2020 Data is now available for purchase via the NACS Store.