NAFCU research: August retail sales climb despite dip in auto sales

WASHINGTON, DC (September 16, 2021) — The National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU) Chief Economist and Vice President of Research Curt Long issued the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released retail data for August:

“Retail sales rose sharply in August even as auto sales continue to fall,” said NAFCU Chief Economist and Vice President of Research Curt Long. “Excluding autos, sales were up 1.8 percent on the month. Growth was driven by nonstore retailers and general merchandisers–both sectors that saw a significant drop in July. Restaurant sales remain flat as grocery store sales rise, so the spread of the Delta variant is having an effect on the normalization of spending patterns for now. Consumers have also bought so many goods over the past 18 months of activity restrictions that goods demand in some categories is spent.”

“A bigger headwind is the shortage of new vehicles, as auto sales fell by 3.6 percent on the month. The good news is that despite the growth of COVID cases during the summer, the reduction in fiscal stimulus, and the rotation from goods to services consumption, sales levels remain well above their pre-COVID trend. That momentum will be important moving forward, as reports suggest that shipping delays could impact the holiday shopping season. We could see some volatility ahead, but consumer confidence is strong and should be enough to maintain relatively stable growth over the near term.”


The National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions is the only national trade association focusing exclusively on federal issues affecting the nation’s federally-insured credit unions. NAFCU membership is direct and provides credit unions with the best in federal advocacy, education and compliance assistance. For more information on NAFCU, go to or @NAFCU on Twitter.


Molly Safreed, (NAFCU)

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