Consumer spending muted impact of govt. shutdown

WASHINGTON — Positive retail sales numbers in the month of October point to a good holiday sales season ahead. According to the National Retail Federation, October retail sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, increased 2.5 percent seasonally adjusted over September, and 4.2 percent unadjusted from 2012.

“Consumer spending is growing as we head into the holiday shopping season and the timing couldn’t be better,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Consumers seem to have found some sense of confidence, driven, in part, by lower gas prices. While positive gains were seen in most retail categories, retailers will continue to rely on heavy promotions to drive traffic and sales this holiday season.”

Good outlook

“We remain optimistic that retailers will experience a healthy holiday season, but we also remain steadfast in our belief that Congress and the administration need to work together on policies that bolster confidence in our economy, spurring capital investment and job growth by business owners large and small,” Shay said.

“This is key in order to sustain long term economic recovery that is currently being led by the retail industry.”

Details

October retail sales, released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau, which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and 3.9 percent adjusted year-over-year.

“The ever-resilient consumer continues to deliver better economic news,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Various retail segments contributed to this month’s growth showing that there is an ongoing pent-up demand by consumers. Confidence and sales should continue to improve.

“As the holiday season draws closer and closer, NRF remains confident in a good holiday shopping and sales season, which will be in line with our forecast.”

Holiday forecast

In October, NRF released its holiday sales forecast, which indicated a 3.9 percent increase in sales over 2012. NRF believes that holiday sales will reach $602.1 billion this year.

Other findings from the September retail sales report include:

  • Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales decreased 1.9 percent seasonally-adjusted yet increased 4.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 1.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 4.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores’ sales increased 1.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 1.0 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 8.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores’ sales increased 0.2 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.5 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Nonstore retailers’ sales increased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 8.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales increased 1.6 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the U.S. and more than 45 countries abroad.

Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.

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