October retail sales healthy as consumers gear up for holidays

The holiday shopping season has officially begun and U.S. households ramped up their spending in October. Retail sales increased by 0.9 percent over September and grew 2.2 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to numbers released today by the National Retail Federation. The calculations excluded automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“Recent solid wage gains and other fundamentals are generating uplift, positioning consumers and retailers for the healthy holiday season NRF is forecasting.”

Jack Kleinhenz
NRF Chief Economist

“October’s strong sales and September’s upward revisions show that consumer spending improved despite the headwinds from the polarizing election and warmer than normal weather,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Recent solid wage gains and other fundamentals are generating uplift, positioning consumers and retailers for the healthy holiday season NRF is forecasting.”  

The three-month moving average of retail sales was up 3.5 percent on a year-over-year basis. Looking at the details of the October report, all sectors were strong except for furniture and home furnishing and department stores.

NRF forecasts 2016 holiday retail sales to increase a solid 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion. 

A few specifics from the report include:

  • Online and other non-store sales increased 1.5 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 10 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at clothing and accessories stores increased 0.6 over the previous month and decreased 0.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at general merchandise stores increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 3.2 percent year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliances stores’ sales increased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 5.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores’ sales decreased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 1.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at building materials and supplies stores increased 1.1 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 2.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores’ sales increased 1.3 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.  
  • Sales at health and personal care stores increased 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 6.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.