|Retail sales rose strongly in October, another sign that consumers are spending despite the Delta wave, inflation, and supply chain woes. According to the Census Bureau, retail sales (spending at retail stores–including online–and bars and restaurants) rose 1.7% in October. They have risen three straight months since a dip in July.
Why it matters: There was widespread strength. Sales rose for motor vehicles and parts (+1.8%), furniture stores (+0.4%), electronics and appliance stores (+3.8%), building material and garden stores (+2.8%), food and beverage stores (+0.9%), gas stations (+3.9%), sporting goods, hobby, musical, and bookstores (+1.5%), general merchandise stores (+0.8%), and online sellers (+4%). Food and drinking places were unchanged (+0%).
- Sales declined only at health and personal care stores (-0.6%) and clothing and accessory stores (-0.7%). Clothing had surged in September (+2.1%).
Be smart: While the vast majority–more than 85%–of sales still occur in physical stores, almost two years into the pandemic it’s now undeniable there has been a structural shift to more online shopping.
—Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce