US retail sales jump 1.2% in Oct, chiefly on auto sales

15 November 2010 18:53  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US retail sales shot up by 1.2% in October from September, the Commerce Department said on Monday, and while the gain was due chiefly to a big 5.7% advance in automobile sales, underlying sales to consumers showed a solid 0.4% improvement.

In its monthly report, the department said that retail and food services sales in October rose to $373.1bn (€272.4bn) from September’s $368.6bn, with both figures seasonally adjusted.

October’s retail sales also were 7.3% ahead of the same month in 2009, and sales minus automobiles and related parts were 6% higher than the year-earlier month.

Economists had expected a gain of about 0.8% for retail sales last month, so the much stronger 1.2% advance was seen as another good indication that consumers are becoming slightly more confident.

Consumer spending is the principal driving force of the US economy, accounting for as much as 70% of all commercial, business and production activity.

October’s retail sales minus automobiles and automotive parts showed a 0.4% gain. 

While that figure was slightly lower than the 0.5% advance that many economists had forecast, it was regarded as significant in terms of consumers’ earlier reluctance to spend on anything other than essentials.

($1 = €0.73)

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