Americans spent $621 billion at retail stores in June, a surprise increase from May

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  • The Census Bureau reported that Americans spent $621.3 billion at retail and food services businesses in June.
  • That’s a surprise 0.6% increase over May’s revised $617.9 billion spend.
  • Retail sales are higher than before the pandemic, spurred by stimulus and pent-up demand.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Americans spent $621.3 billion at retail stores and restaurants last month, according to the Census Bureau. That’s up 0.6% from the Bureau’s revised estimate of $617.9 billion in May. Economists expected a 0.4% decline over the month, according to Bloomberg.

The US economy is mainly a consumer economy, with personal consumption amounting to about two-thirds of the nation’s GDP. The Census Bureau’s monthly estimates of retail and food services spending gives a helpful indicator for how that crucial part of the economy is doing.

Retail sales plummeted during the early months of the pandemic, but quickly bounced back by last summer. Over the last few months, they’ve hit record highs, fueled by pent-up demand that was unleashed as the economy reopens and by the various government stimulus packages helping support Americans’ incomes.

While a little lower than the record highs in March and April, June’s figure shows Americans are still spending more than ever at retail storees and restaurants.

Spending at auto dealers and parts stores dropped 2.0% over the month, and the Bureau noted that retail and food services sales outside of cars increased a full 1.3% between May and June. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Consumer Price Index inflation report earlier this week showed that prices for cars spiked dramatically over the month, with used car prices increasing a historical record-high 10.5%.

Americans seem to be getting ready to go out into the world more often. Spending at clothing stores increased 2.6% over the month to a seasonally-adjusted total of $25.8 billion, and spending at restaurants and bars rose 2.3% to $70.6 billion. As restaurants and bars continue to reopen and see expanded business, they are hiring hundreds of thousands of workers each month and raising pay.

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