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Economy
October retail sales up 4.3 percent over last year
For immediate release
November 15, 2017

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"Households clearly have the wherewithal to spend going into the holiday season."
NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz

WASHINGTON – Retail sales in October increased 0.1 percent over September on a seasonally adjusted basis and were up 4.3 percent year-over-year unadjusted, according to calculations released today by the National Retail Federation. The 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. “The uplift in October payroll and income has generated a healthy pace of retail spending and household debt burdens are historically low. Congressional action on tax reform should help boost confidence, but it is important that lawmakers keep up their momentum and not let details of the legislation get in the way of achieving such a long-sought goal.”

Sales at building materials stores were down from September after a surge that followed late-summer hurricanes, but 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 were up 4.1 percent on a three-month moving average compared with the same period a year ago.

Specifics include:

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

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.