Sales at clothing stores were up 3.8% year-on-year in October

Sales at clothing stores were up 3.8% year-on-year in October

An increase in US retail sales in October, helped by gains at clothing and department stores, has raised hopes for a good holiday sales season.

Retail sales were 0.4% higher than September, according to the latest figures from the Commerce Department, and 3.9% higher year-on-year.

During the month, sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores were up 1.4 % month-on-month and increased 3.8% year-on-year.

Sales at general merchandise stores edged up 0.2% on September, and rose 0.7% on last October. Meanwhile, department stores saw sales rise 0.5% from the prior month, but declined 4% year-on-year.

At sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, sales were up 1.6% on the previous month, and increased 5.3% on October last year.

Separate figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF), which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, showed October retail sales climbed 2.5% over September, and were 4.2% higher than the year before.

"Consumer spending is growing as we head into the holiday shopping season and the timing couldn't be better," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said.

"Consumers seem to have found some sense of confidence, driven, in part, by lower gas prices.

"While positive gains were seen in most retail categories, retailers will continue to rely on heavy promotions to drive traffic and sales this holiday season."

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz added: "The ever-resilient consumer continues to deliver better economic news.

"Various retail segments contributed to this month's growth showing that there is an on-going pent-up demand by consumers. Confidence and sales should continue to improve."

In October, NRF released its holiday sales forecast, which indicated a 3.9% increase in sales over 2012. NRF believes that holiday sales will reach $602.1bn this year.