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NRF: Despite drop in auto, September sales up in most retail sectors

Retail sales fell in September for the first time in six months, but the decline was credited to a drop-off in auto purchases. Most U.S. retail sectors actually experienced broad sales gains during the month, according to the National Retail Federation, which reported that, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, retail sales grew a seasonally 0.6% compared to the previous month and 3.8% unadjusted compared to the prior year.

Results of specific sectors include:

  • Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales increased 0.1% seasonally adjusted and 8.0% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales decreased 0.5% seasonally adjusted month-to-month yet increased 0.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores’ sales increased 0.7% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.8% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 0.2% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 4.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores’ sales increased 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month yet decreased 0.2% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.6% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Non-store retailers’ sales increased 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 12.0% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales increased 0.5% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 0.9% unadjusted year-over-year.

“Falling gas prices combined with rising housing and stock prices continue to support consumer spending, and the broader economy,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “While far from robust, consumers are shopping, but they are spending both discriminately and moderately. Volatility still persists in various retail sectors but spending has somewhat stabilized heading into the all-important holiday shopping season.”

September retail sales, released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, showed that total retail and food services sales, which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, decreased 0.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month yet increased 3.2% adjusted year-over-year.