Even with the pandemic, consumers likely boosted retail sales in July

Key Points
  • Retail sales data is a key litmus test, and economists expect Friday's report will show consumers continued to spend in July, though at a slower pace than June.
  • Economists expect to see retail sales rise by 2.3%, helped by car sales, appliances and home improvement spending.
  • The report follows a series of better than expected data, from July's employment report to consumer inflation and jobless claims data.
Household appliances are offered for sale at Home Depot in Chicago, Illinois.
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Consumers spent more in July than they did last year, but the pace of spending slowed from June, as some states curtailed activity due to a resurgence of Covid-19.

Economists expect retail sales rose 2.3% in July, after June's 7.5% increase, according to Dow Jones. Excluding autos, economists expect sales would have increased 1.2%.  The Census Bureau is expected to release retail sales Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET.

As of June, retail sales recovered from the sharp slump that came with the virus-related shutdowns in March, and were actually higher than last year's level. July's report will be important since there is concern that the spreading virus in the South and West in July may have hit consumer spending activity, which accounts for about two-thirds of the economy.