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Retail sales surge in October

BY Marianne Wilson

In a good omen for the upcoming holiday season, consumers spent more than expected in October, as U.S. sales rose more than expected.

Retail sales increased by 0.9% over September and grew 2.2% on a year-over-year basis, according to the National Retail Federation. The calculations excluded automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“October’s strong sales and September’s upward revisions show that consumer spending improved despite the headwinds from the polarizing election and warmer than normal weather,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Recent solid wage gains and other fundamentals are generating uplift, positioning consumers and retailers for the healthy holiday season NRF is forecasting.”

The NRF said that all sectors were strong except for furniture and home furnishing and department stores. Among the standouts was the health and personal care stores segment, where sales rose 0.8% seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 6.4% unadjusted year-over-year.

“With the largest back-to-back months of increased sales in nearly two years, the October sales report suggests positive momentum in consumer activity as we look out to the final weeks of the year,” said chief economist at Stifel Fixed Income, Lindsey Piegza, “Ignoring moderate job gains and declining income growth, consumers were willing to loosen their purse strings and hit the malls last month extending purchases of everything from clothing to electronics to building materials.”

Here is a breakdown of the other retail segments:

• Online and other non-store sales increased 1.5% seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 10%unadjusted year-over-year.

• Sales at clothing and accessories stores increased 0.6% over the previous month and decreased 0.3%unadjusted year-over-year.

• Sales at general merchandise stores increased 0.4% seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 3.2% year-over-year.

• Electronics and appliances stores’ sales increased 0.2% seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 5.6% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Furniture and home furnishings stores’ sales decreased 0.9% seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 1.7% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Sales at building materials and supplies stores increased 1.1% seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 2.9% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Sporting goods stores’ sales increased 1.3% seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 1% unadjusted year-over-year.

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