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Retail sales mixed in October

 woman browsing in store

Retail sales rebounded in October, but the gains were fueled mostly by online and grocery. 

Retail sales in October inched up 0.2% over September, according to the National Retail Federation, and were up 4.2% year-over-year. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said Friday that overall October sales – including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants – were up 0.3% from September and up 3.1%% year-over-year.

The rise in October sales was due to gains in three sectors: online, grocery and general merchandise stores. Sales were down month-over-month in apparel and accessories; home furnishings; sporting goods; building supplies and garden supply; and electronics and appliances.

October’s results make up for most of the 0.3% month-over-month decline seen in September and build on September’s year-over-year increase of 4.1%. As of October, the three-month moving average was up 4.3% over the same period a year ago, compared with 4.7% in September.

“Despite the gradual slowdown in the U.S. economy, consumers are in a good place and October’s retail sales are a step forward into the all-important holiday season,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Uncertainty around trade policy has impacted consumer sentiment recently but ongoing job growth, low interest rates, low inflation and the stock market hitting record highs provide support for consumer spending.”

Specifics from key retail sectors for October month-over-month sales are below.

•    Online and other non-store sales were up 0.9%.
•    Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.5%.
•    General merchandise stores were up 0.4%.  
•    Health and personal care stores were unchanged.
•    Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 1.0%.
•    Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.9%.
•    Sporting goods stores were down 0.8%.
•    Building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.5%.
•    Electronics and appliance stores down 0.4%.

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