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Retail sales inch up in October

U.S. retail sales edged up slightly in the month before the holiday shopping season starts in earnest.

Retail sales in October rose 0.1% over September, and were up 4.3% year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation. The NRF numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“There was broad strength across most sectors, and households clearly have the wherewithal to spend going into the holiday season,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

Sales at building materials stores were down from September after a strong surge that followed the series of late-summer hurricanes. Weather continues to play a role in consumer spending.

“Weather is always an important factor for seasonal purchases, and the cooler temperatures experienced in later October and early November should provide a good start for winter purchases,” Kleinhenz said.

October sales results by category include:

• Sporting goods stores showed the strongest increase, up 1.5% over September (down 2.4% year-over-year.)
• Clothing and accessories stores were up 0.8% (up 0.4% year-over-year).
• Health and personal care stores were also up 0.8% (up 4.8% year-over-year).
• Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 0.7% (4.8% year-over-year).
• Electronics and appliance stores were also up 0.7% (up 2.1% year-over-year).
• General merchandise stores were unchanged from September but up 1.4% year-over-year.
• Online and other non-store sales were down 0.3% (up 9.6% year-over-year).
• Building materials and supplies stores were down 1.2% (up 11% year-over-year).
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