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November 18, 2022

US October retail sales spike as holiday mood sidelines inflationary woes

US retail sales grew again in October as consumers set aside concerns about inflation and many got a jump start on the holiday season, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said.

By Hannah Abdulla

“October retail sales data confirms that consumers continue to stretch their dollars on household priorities, including gifts for family and loved ones this holiday season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

“With a strong labour market and excess savings, we are expecting a solid five-day holiday shopping weekend, and retailers are prepared to meet their customers with the right inventory, competitive prices and great experiences. We are keeping a close eye on the railway labour negotiations and urge Congress to do everything in its power to avoid a labour strike this holiday season.”

The US Census Bureau said overall retail sales in October were up 1.3% from September and up 8.3% year over year. In September, sales were flat month over month but up 8.6% year over year.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed October was up 0.7% from September and up 6.5% unadjusted year over year. In September, sales were up 0.5% month over month and up 7.9% year over year.

NRF’s numbers were up 7.7% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of October. Sales were up 7.5% year over year for the first 10 months of the year, keeping results on track with NRF’s forecast that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021. NRF forecast earlier this month that retail sales during the holiday season – defined as November through December – will also grow between 6% and 8% over 2021.

October sales were up in all but two retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, building materials stores and grocery stores, and increased in five out of nine categories on a monthly basis. Specifically in clothing and clothing accessory stores, sales were flat month over month seasonally adjusted but up 2.5% unadjusted year over year.

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, added: “October’s performance is a strong foothold as we go into the holiday season. Spending has gradually slowed but remains solid. Consumers continue to show resiliency despite elevated inflation, rising borrowing costs and widespread macroeconomic uncertainties. With employment and wages growing and shoppers accessing accumulated savings, we expect the trend to continue. Early holiday deals that enticed customers appear to underly the October numbers and more promotions will be seen in November and December, which are historically the big holiday shopping months.”

Last month the NRF said it believed imports at the nation’s major container ports are expected to fall to their lowest level in nearly two years by the end of 2022 even though retail sales continue to grow.

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