Gain in U.S. Retail Sales Last Month Signals Steady Demand

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. retail sales increased last month after a bigger September advance than previously estimated, indicating resilient demand heading into the holiday shopping season, according to Commerce Department figures released Wednesday.

Highlights of Retail Sales (October)

  • Overall sales rose 0.2% (est. unch.) after a revised 1.9% increase in prior month
  • Purchases at automobile dealers climbed 0.7% after surging 4.6%
  • So-called retail-control group sales, which are used to calculate GDP and exclude food services, auto dealers, building materials stores and gasoline stations, advanced 0.3% following an upwardly revised 0.5% increase in September
  • 9 of 13 major retail categories showed month-over-month increases in the value of sales

Key Takeaways

The broad-based advance in October sales and a stronger hand-off from an upwardly revised September show American consumers will continue to fuel the economy in the fourth quarter. Steady hiring, rising asset values and limited inflation are underpinning consumer spending.

Vehicle sales were firmer, though the gain was smaller than the previous month when the recovery from two hurricanes boosted purchases. Industry figures released earlier showed sales of cars and light trucks cooled in October from the fastest annualized rate since 2005.

Among other retailers, sales accelerated in October at furniture stores, electronics and appliances outlets, restaurants, clothing stores and sporting goods merchants.

The report also showed a decline in gasoline costs weighed on receipts at service stations. The Commerce Department figures aren’t adjusted for price changes.

Gain in U.S. Retail Sales Last Month Signals Steady Demand

Other Details

  • Excluding automobiles and gasoline, sales rose 0.3 percent after a 0.6 percent gain
  • Receipts at gasoline stations fell 1.2 percent
  • Sales rose 0.8 percent at clothing vendors, 0.7 percent at furniture stores and at electronics outlets, 0.8 percent at restaurants and 1.5 percent at merchants of sporting goods

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