October Retail Sales Strengthen for Nearly All Businesses

Paul Ausick

U.S. consumer spending continued its September rebound in October, recovering further from a dip posted in August. The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that some retail businesses have posted solid year-over-year gains, led by nonstore retailers (e-commerce) up 11.1%. Overall sales growth rose more than economists had forecast.

According to the Census Bureau, seasonally adjusted sales rose by 0.8% to $465.9 billion, compared with September 2016 sales of $459.8 billion, and rose 4.3% year over year. Total sales for the three-month period of August through October 2016 were up 3.3% from a year ago.

Analysts were expecting an overall month-over-month increase of 0.6% and an increase of 0.5%, excluding autos and auto parts. Excluding motor vehicle and parts sales month-over-month sales rose 0.5% and rose 2.7% year over year. The consensus estimates called for a month-over-month increase of 0.5%.

Gasoline station sales rose 2.2% month over month and are up 0.8% year over year. The 10-month total for gas stations, however, is down 8.6%, due largely to lower pump prices.

Electronics stores posted a sales gain of 0.2% month over month and a year-over-year decline of 4% in sales. Department stores posted a month-over-month sales decrease of 0.7% and a year-over-year decline of 7.3%.

Sales were stronger across a broad range of products. Automobile sales rose 1.1% in October compared with September, and they are up 5.8% compared with October 2015. Those figures reflect the September sales reports from the automakers that came out earlier this month.

Building materials and garden equipment and supplies sales rose 1.1% month over month and are up 6.5% year over year. Grocery store sales rose 0.7% compared with September sales and are up 3.4% year over year. Food and drink establishments posted a decline of 0.7% month over month and sales are up 4.3% year over year.

Only home furnishings (down 0.9%), department stores and food and beverage establishments posted month-over-month declines in October.