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Yesterday’s Census Department release on retail sales for June 2017 gave a sobering look at the current state of American retail. While total sales year-over-year were up 3.9% for the first six months, a rundown comparing May to June 2017 estimates (unadjusted) were not so kind.

Every major reporting category except electronics and appliance stores and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores showed a monthly decline. Even non-store retailers, where e-commerce retail is classified, reported a 2.8% dip. Overall June retail and food services sales dropped 3.2% from May 2017.

While we have to wait for full mid-year reporting on all sectors of retail, the Census updated its comprehensive data on sales by type of retailer through May. A look at the YoY trending categories at retail reveal important changes taking place in the consumer market, reflecting not just changes in their buying behavior but underlying trends that are taking place culturally.

Change in retail sales by kind of business Jan-May 2016-2017
Change in retail sales by kind of business Jan-May 2016-2017

Unity Marketing

Change in retail sales by kind of business Jan-May 2016-2017

Here is my read on the data and what it reveals about the American shopper:

  • More need for diversions from our troubles

There is no question that American consumers are troubled by the ever growing dangers in the world as it threatens the very foundation of the American way of life. They are also made anxious by the political hubbub, fake news posturing and other distractions that are taking our leaders away from their much more important task of governing and ruling this great nation and setting it on the right course to grow the economy and help American citizens prosper.

In the face of these struggles, Americans are finding solace at the bar, which not only helps them escape from their worries temporarily, but also provides much needed connection with others as they share drinks at the pub.

In addition, they are pursuing more DIY home improvement projects, as the growth in the building supply dealers testifies to, including getting their hands dirty in the garden.

  • On the road again

Encouraged by cheaper gas, Americans are getting into their cars and traveling more, going to new places, seeing new sights and just…