US retail sales blow past expectations; outlook cloudy

  • US retail sales blow past expectations; outlook cloudy

US retail sales blow past expectations; outlook cloudy

NEW YORK (AP) - Retail sales rose strongly in September, the fifth consecutive month of growth, as Americans spent more on clothing, cars and sporting goods.

U.S. retail sales jumped 1.9% last month, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday.

Americans spent more than expected at retailers in September as the USA economy continued to recover and reaccelerate after slowing through the summer. That's much better than the 0.8% rise economists expected.

The September report marks the fifth straight increase in retail spending after the metric plummeted in April.

Despite the sharp rebound, clothing sales were 12.5 percent below September 2019, food and drinking places 14.4 percent lower and gas stations down 13.3 percent amid low oil prices globally. "September retail sales reflect the support of government measures and elevated savings that is being spent now that consumers are shopping again".

Retail spending is among the economic indicators being watched most closely to monitor the U.S. economic recovery's health. Services such as haircuts and hotel stays are not included in the report.

However there were still plenty of signs of the downturn's effects in the data, with sales in many individual sectors much lower than they were in the same month past year. And some say rising COVID-19 cases could keep people away from stores.

Saunders added that there is also some early evidence that holiday spending is being brought forward, due to both because retailers are promoting offers and deals more heavily and because consumers want to avoid a last-minute rush. And for the gifts she does buy, Alcantara plans to skip big national chains and go to neighborhood shops that were more badly hurt by the pandemic.