Dan Green

Dan Green

Since 2003, Dan Green has been a leading mortgage lender and respected industry authority. His unwavering commitment to first-time home buyers and home buyer education has established him as a trusted voice among his colleagues, his peers, and the media. Dan founded Homebuyer.com to expand the American Dream of Homeownership to all who want it. .

An A-Frame Home On A Suburban Street - Retail Sales

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What Is Retail Sales?

Retail Sales measures the total revenue collected from retail stores nationwide – physical and digital – in a given period.

Retail Sales: A Detailed Explanation

Retail Sales is a U.S. economic indicator measuring how much money consumers spend on goods in all the country’s retail stores combined in a month, quarter, or year.

Goods included in the Retail Sales report include:

  • Clothing and apparel
  • Electronics and appliances
  • Furniture and home furnishings
  • Food and beverages
  • Personal care items
  • Automobiles and auto parts
  • Sporting goods
  • Books, music, and hobby items
  • Building materials and garden equipment

The Retail Sales data tracks these goods as they represent physical items that consumers buy, as opposed to services consumed like healthcare, education, or financial services, which are not included as part of Retail Sales.

Retail Sales is a key measure of retail sector performance, which reflects consumer spending trends and economic activity. When Retail Sales is strong, consumers are spending a lot of money.

You can find more information and data updates on the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.

How is Retail Sales Calculated?

Retail Sales data is gathered by sampling sales receipts at retail stores of different types and sizes. It includes total revenues, adjusting for seasonal variation, holidays, and trading-day differences to give a clearer picture of underlying trends.

Retail Sales: Chart

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Data: U.S. Census Bureau. Do not reprint without permission.

Common Questions About Retail Sales

What does an increase in Retail Sales indicate?

When Retail Sales increases, it reflects an increase in consumer spending across all retail outlets, often suggesting a growing economy.

Does Retail Sales data include online shopping?

Retail Sales data captures receipts from all retail outlets, including physical stores and online retailers, to reflect consumer spending across multiple shopping platforms.

What sectors are excluded from Retail Sales?

Retail Sales data explicitly tracks the purchase of goods and does not include expenditures on services. This means these reports do not cover spending in sectors like healthcare, education, and financial services.

How does the government use Retail Sales data?

The government uses Retail Sales data to gauge the health of the retail sector and overall economic activity. This information helps assess consumer confidence and spending behavior which are key indicators for the overall economic environment.

Can Retail Sales predict economic downturns?

While not a standalone predictor, significant, sustained declines in Retail Sales can indicate potential economic downturns. Analysts monitor these trends closely as part of broader economic assessments.


This article, "What Is Retail Sales?" draws on the author's professional mortgage experiences and references information found at these authoritative websites:

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       Retail Sales measures the total revenue collected from retail stores nationwide - physical and digital - in a given period.

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