Fickle consumer sentiment in retail sales was evident in the June figures for food and beverage stores, The Food Institute reported. By contrast, some consumers found higher menu prices at dining establishments easier to digest, as this sector saw a recent boost, according to latest figures from the Census Bureau as analyzed by The Food Institute.
The first half of 2012 retail sales ended in a whimper, with June food and beverage store sales taking in only 0.2 percent more than the same month a year earlier.
Cumulative sales rose 4.1 percent in the first half of this year, only slightly higher than the increase of retail food prices, indicating little volume growth at stores thus far in 2012, according to the latest Census Bureau data and Food Institute estimates.
The meager increase in June contrasts with last month's 5.5 percent bump from one year ago. This month's figures seem to show consumers continue to be budget conscious, taking advantage of item discounts and coupons to keep costs down, explains Food Institute President Brian Todd. The extreme heat across much of the country may have prompted consumers to eat away from home more as well, something that is borne out by the increase in restaurant sales, described below.
Month-to-month sales fluctuated from a 7.3 percent increase in February (thanks to the Leap year); to a 1.2 percent decline in April; followed by a 5.6 percent comeback in May.