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SpendingPulse: August sales strong despite hurricane and Wall Street volatility


Purchase, N.Y. -- The apparel, e-commerce, grocery, and luxury segments all showed continued growth in August, as the hardware, restaurant, and automotive repair sectors returned to positive territory, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail and services sales.

Michael McNamara, VP research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, noted that while some of the growth was helped by easy comparisons with the year-ago period, the results still demonstrated continued consumer spending patterns in spite of the debt debate in Washington, the volatility on Wall Street, or Hurricane Irene.

“Even taken together, these factors have not been able to derail the U.S. consumer,” he said.

McNamara added that while certain sectors of discretionary spending with a heavy concentration on the Eastern seaboard were impacted by Irene, on a national scale, the hurricane did not throw the American consumer off course in August.

“On the east coast, Hurricane Irene primarily impacted the last Saturday of the month. This last Saturday in August typically accounts for about 4% – 4.5 % of the total sales for the month,” he said. “The hurricane also benefitted some sectors such as groceries and building materials. Finally the hurricane may have shifted some discretionary sector sales from August to September.”

The SpendingPulse Back-to-School sales index shows a year-over-year increase of 3.0% compared with the July-August time period in 2010. This index aggregates the sales performance for children’s apparel, family apparel, department stores, office supplies and drug stores. The 3.0% increase is the largest year-over-year increase since 2006 when sales increased by 6.2%.

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