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US clothing sees slower sales growth for June

US clothing retailers have seen a marginal sales increase for the year to June 2017, new figures show.

Data from the US Census Bureau show sales grew to US$21.53bn compared with $21.46bn a year earlier. This has slowed, however, from May's $21.55bn. General merchandise store sales, which includes department stores, increased to $57.19bn from $56.25bn.

Overall US retail sales for the year grew to $417.5bn from $405.32bn. Monthly sales growth, however, appeared lacklustre.

Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, comments: "After May's robust increase, June has been a more subdued month for retail sales. Even so, at 3.2%, the pace of expansion remains respectable, even if it is a little below the average monthly growth rate of 4% for the year to date".

Apparel store growth only posted a 1% increase for the month.

"While a positive number is welcome, it is clear that a rash of heavy discounting and a lack of interest from consumers are holding the category back. Given this has been the case for some time, there is little evidence to suggest the trend will reverse over the remainder of this year."

He forecasts retail sales will continue to hold up for the remainder of the year but issues a warning around discounting.

"It is clear that retailers are working hard to attract shoppers with many resorting to discounting to stimulate buying. While this is good news for consumers, it is bad news for margins and will dampen growth levels. Such a dynamic may be exacerbated by further bankruptcies in the sector and the consequent stock liquidations that follow".

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