Washington, D.C. -- A report released Monday by the Commerce Department said that retail sales beat expectations for October, climbing 1.2% and representing the biggest gain since March.
The 1.2% rise in October purchases followed a 0.7% gain in September, which also was larger than estimated.
Stock gains over the past two months and growing employment may give a boost to consumer spending in the coming months. “The 2010 holiday shopping season could prove a little bit brighter,” Zach Pandl, an economist at Nomura Securities International in New York, told Bloomberg. “Consumer spending is really the main factor leading to a little bit more optimistic views of where the economy is heading.”
Nine of 13 categories in Monday’s report showed an increase in demand, led by a 5% gain among auto dealers. Sales excluding automobiles advanced 0.4%. Non-store merchants, which include Internet retailers, sporting goods and building material stores, were among the other categories that showed increasing demand.