The U.S. Commerce Department released June retail sales figures on Thursday that beat estimates, soaring 7.5% after an 18.2% jump in May, the biggest gain ever. While that shows great signs of a continued economic recovery, new shutdowns related to the surge in COVID-19 cases and continued high unemployment claims may slow the gains.
The biggest increases in retail came from clothing, which was up 105% from May, but was still down 23% from the prior year. Other big winners were electronics/appliances, which gained 37%, furniture/furnishings (up 33%), and sporting goods/hobbies/music/books (27% higher). That last segment also had the biggest increase (21%) from last year.
Other segments that increased year over year were general merchandise, motor vehicles, building materials/garden supplies, food and drink, and non-store retailers.Overall, sales increased 1% over June 2019.
This is good news for retailers that have been struggling, such as Macy's (M -0.54%) and Gap (GPS -0.76%), and maybe even better news for sports-related retailers such as Nike (NKE -0.32%) and Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS -0.38%).
One step forward, two steps back
At the same time, there were another 1.3 million jobless claims filed last week, the same as the week before, and a drop lower than the week of July 4.
JPMorgan Chase (JPM 1.22%) CEO Jamie Dimon said in a conference call on Tuesday, "You will see the effect of this recession, you're just not going to see it right away because of all the stimulus, and in fact, 60% or 70% of the unemployed are making more money than they were making when they were working."