cash_registerWASHINGTON D.C., Aug 13, 2009 /  — Despite hope of economic rebound, nervous shoppers send July sales south, reports the National Retail Federation which noted that retail industry sales for July (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) decreased 5.0% unadjusted year-over-year and also declined 0.6% seasonally adjusted month-to-month

July retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) decreased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month and decreased 7.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“Many families postponed the bulk of their back-to-school shopping this year, possibly waiting to take advantage of their state sales tax holiday or hoping for additional discounts,” said Rosalind Wells, Chief Economist of NRF. “Hopefully, retailers’ aggressive promotions and reduced inventory levels will make for a better August and shield retailers from a disappointing season.”

NRF’s back-to-school survey, released in July, found that the average family of students in grades K-12 would spend 7.7 percent less on back-to-school this year, from $594.24 last year to $548.72 this year.

There were few bright spots. Health and personal care store sales remained the biggest winner, with sales increasing 0.7 percent adjusted from last month and up 4.7 percent unadjusted over last July. Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores also increased a slight 0.6 percent adjusted month-to-month but decreased 7.2 percent unadjusted year-over year.

Additionally, electronics and appliance store sales decreased 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and decreased 14.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sales at general merchandise stores also decreased 0.8 percent adjusted from the previous month and decreased 3.4 percent unadjusted over last year.