A report released by MasterCard Advisors on Wednesday showed that U.S. retail sales continued to decline after peaking at 4.7 percent in June, with September retail sales up only three percent year-over-year—the result of a drop-off in gasoline spending.
“The government shutdown could impact businesses and consumers in so many ways – fortunately, our monthly SpendingPulse report can help fill a critical void for companies that depend on having an accurate and timely view of consumer spending,” Sarah Quinlan, the senior vice president of market insights for MasterCard Advisors, said. “Our insights into consumer spending have always been released ahead of the government figures with 99.86 percent correlation to the Commerce Department. As retailers head into the busy holiday shopping season, we will continue to be a reliable source for companies to help guide their business decisions.”
The report also showed e-commerce increased by double digits from last year, which could signal that shoppers are shopping more online. In September, sales at apparel and department stores were among the lowest, and consumers also reduce their spending at hardware and furniture and furnishings stores.
“The ‘feel-good factor’ is hugely important to driving retail sales – when people feel good, they like to shop,” Quinlan said. “There are some definite bright spots in this month’s SpendingPulse report, but overall, consumers remained cautious and continued to search for the best deals, which it seems they often found online. If the government shutdown continues to drag on, it could take a toll on already wary consumers. We will be keeping an eye on how consumers are adjusting their spending habits as our government leaders work to resolve these issues.”