Washington, D.C. -- Retail sales rose more than projected in October, according to figures released Tuesday by the Commerce Department. The report showed that retail sales were up 0.5% in October following a 1.1% increase in September.
Excluding automobile sales, retail sales rose 0.6% in October — the best showing since March. And when excluding autos and sales at gasoline stations, sales rose 0.7%, also the biggest increase since March.
The median forecast of 81 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was a rise of 0.3%. Purchases of electronics jumped by the most in two years.
“Households continue to spend at a pace that can keep the U.S. economy comfortably out of recession,” Eric Green, chief market economist at TD Securities in New York, told Bloomberg. “These numbers give me more confidence that retailers’ expectations of stronger sales growth this holiday season will come true.”
The biggest increase in retail sales took place among electronics and appliance stores where sales rose 3.7%, the fastest rate in almost two years. Sales at nonstore retailers — Internet companies and mail-order catalogs — increased 1.5%, the biggest increase since January.
Sales also rose 1.5% among do-it-yourself and garden stores, 1.1% for grocery stores and 1.3% for shops that sell sporting goods, books and music.
But not all retail sectors reported gains. Sales slipped 1.2% at department stores, and were down 0.7% at apparel stores and at home-furnishing stores.