Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week showed September retail and food service sales fell 0.1 percent from August but increased 3.2 percent year-over-year, and September retail sales, excluding auto sales, increased by 0.4 percent.
“Retailers witnessed a solid sales performance in September, with marked gains in all sectors, excluding clothing,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “The American consumer remains ever-cautious and value-driven but continues to spend. Only time will tell if and when the government shutdown and debt ceiling debacle will impact retailers and consumers this fall and winter. The true economic impact of Washington’s inability to enact policies that enhance and sustain economic growth and certainty remains to be seen.”
Sales at building material and garden supply stores rose 0.1 percent, while sales at electronics and appliance stores rose 0.7 percent. Sales at home furnishing and furniture stores increased by 0.2 percent, health and personal care sales rose by 0.4 percent and general merchandise sales increased by 0.4 percent.
Nonstore retailers saw sales increase 0.4 percent, while sporting goods and hobby retailers saw a 0.5 percent sales increase. Clothing and clothing accessory retailers, however, saw a 0.5 percent decrease in sales.
“Falling gas prices combined with rising housing and stock prices continue to support consumer spending, and the broader economy,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “While far from robust, consumers are shopping, but they are spending both discriminately and moderately. Volatility still persists in various retail sectors but spending has somewhat stabilized heading into the all-important holiday shopping season.”
The NRF released its holiday forecast last month, which indicated a 3.9 percent retail sales gain over last year to reach $602.1 billion.