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Was Amazon.com's Prime Day behind the miss in retail sales?

The government's retail sales number, after popping in June, was mysteriously flat in July — and some of that might be because of Amazon.com and its Prime Day.

Consumers continued to spend online, but the July retail sales number was flat in part because of the sharp percent drop in gasoline prices, which reduce sales at not only gasoline stations but at the likes of Costco and Walmart. There was also a general lack of sales at brick and mortar stores in apparel, electronics, and general merchandise.

Online shopping shows up in the non-store retail sales category, which rose 1.3 percent in July or 14.1 percent year over year. That category includes catalogs and infomercials, but it's largely online sales. Since online shopping is also mostly Amazon.com, it's safe to say that Amazon's self-proclaimed Prime Day holiday was a big part of the retailer's — and overall — online sales last month.

Retail sales were flat even though they were expected to rise 0.5 percent in July. Excluding automobiles, sales were expected to rise by 0.1 percent, but instead they fell 0.3 percent. June's overall retail sales meanwhile were revised higher to a gain of 0.8 percent, so there is also some speculation that there was some payback in July.

But economists, in trying to explain the sudden drop, highlighted the continued robustness of online sales versus the long-time trend of decline at traditional stores.

"I...


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