Survey News: Mixed October Retail Sales Report

The U.S. Commerce Department’s monthly sales report shows that overall retail sales (seasonally adjusted for the month) dropped 0.3%—but that was primarily due to slow sales of automobiles. And, in fact, unadjusted year-over-year retail sales rose 6.7%. As a result, the National Retail Federation (NRF) is bullish on the holiday season. “The stage has been set for the holiday season and retailers are ready to perform,” said NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells in a statement. “October gains continue to reinforce our [positive] holiday forecast.”

On Sept. 16, the NRF forecast a 5.7% increase in November/December sales, which would be the highest increase since 1999. Despite generally warmer weather in October, apparel sales rose 5.8% unadjusted for the year and 0.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month. Furniture and home furnishings stores also rose by 11.3% unadjusted year-over-year and 1.0% adjusted month-to-month. Furthermore, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealer sales jumped 12.1% unadjusted year-over-year and 1.6% adjusted from September.