Breaking News
LAST CHANCE for Cyber Monday SALE: Up to 54% off InvestingPro! Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

U.S. retail sales surge as Americans kick off holiday shopping, brighten economic outlook

Economic IndicatorsNov 16, 2021 08:51PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Shoppers wait in line to enter the Chanel store on 57th St in New York City, U.S., May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. retail sales surged in October as Americans eagerly started their holiday shopping early to avoid empty shelves amid shortages of some goods because of the ongoing pandemic, giving the economy a lift at the start of the fourth quarter.

The solid report from the Commerce Department on Tuesday suggested high inflation was not yet dampening spending, even as worries about the rising cost of living sent consumer sentiment tumbling to a 10-year low in early November. Rising household wealth, thanks to a strong stock market and house prices, as well as massive savings and wage gains appear to be cushioning consumers against the highest annual inflation in three decades.

"It's more important to look at what consumers do than what they say," said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial (NYSE:PNC) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "They are concerned about higher inflation, but they are still in good shape and are continuing to spend."

Retail sales jumped 1.7% last month, the largest gain since March, after rising 0.8% in September. It was the third straight monthly advance and topped economists' expectations for a 1.4% increase. Sales soared 16.3% year-on-year in October and are 21.4% above their pre-pandemic level.

Several of the top U.S. retailers this week have noted an earlier start to holiday shopping. While this could lead to declines in November and December, economists and retailers expect holiday sales this year will be the best in a while.

"Today's numbers show that consumers are getting a jump on their holiday shopping," said Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation in Washington. "We continue to urge consumers to shop early and shop safely, and we fully expect this holiday season to be one for the record books."

Retail sales are mostly made up of goods, with services, including healthcare, education and hotel accommodation, making up the remaining portion of consumer spending. The nearly two-year long COVID-19 pandemic has caused an acute shortage of labor, delaying deliveries of raw materials to factories as well as shipments of finished goods to markets.

October's broad increase in sales partly reflected higher prices as monthly consumer inflation surged 0.9% in October, which boosted the annual rate to 6.2%.

Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher on the data and also as Walmart (NYSE:WMT) forecast a strong holiday quarter. The dollar rose against a basket of currencies. U.S. Treasury prices fell.

Retail sales: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-STOCKS/movanldarpa/retailsales.png

BROAD GAINS

Sales were led by motor vehicles, with receipts at auto dealerships advancing 1.8% after gaining 1.2% in September. The rise reflected the first increase in unit sales in six months, as well as higher prices. The tight supply of automobiles because of a global semiconductor shortage is driving up prices.

Sales at service stations increased 3.9%, boosted by more expensive gasoline. Online retail sales rebounded 4.0%. Receipts at building material stores advanced 2.8%. There were also increases in receipts at furniture outlets as well as sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores. Sales at electronics and appliance stores rebounded 3.8%.

But sales at clothing stores fell 0.7%. Sales at restaurants and bars were unchanged despite an ebb in COVID-19 infections, driven by the Delta variant. Restaurants and bars are the only services category in the retail sales report. These sales were up 29.3% from last October.

Economists speculated that either high inflation was forcing consumers to cut back on eating out or that spending had permanently shifted in favor of goods.

"If services spending has largely recovered, strong goods demand increasingly looks to be a structural shift in consumer preferences, rather than a temporary COVID-related outcome," said Andrew Hollenhorst, chief U.S. economist at Citigroup (NYSE:C) in New York.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales shot up 1.6% last month after rising 0.5% in September. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Adjusting for inflation, retail sales are up at a roughly 5% annualized rate from the third-quarter average.

Core retail sales: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-STOCKS/gkvlgdayzpb/retailcore.png

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity rose at a tepid 1.7% rate last quarter. Economists at JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) boosted their fourth-quarter GDP growth estimate to a 5% rate from a 4% pace. Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) raised its estimate by 0.5 percentage point to a 5.0% rate. The economy grew at a 2% rate in the third quarter.

The economic picture was further brightened by a separate report from the Federal Reserve on Tuesday showing manufacturing output surged 1.2% last month to its highest level since March 2019, after falling 0.7% in September.

"The economy has thrown off whatever lethargy it might have had in the summer, and it is growing quite strongly," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Holland, Pennsylvania.

Businesses are also making steady progress replenishing depleted inventories, which should help to keep factories humming and support the economy. Business inventories increased 0.7% in September, a third report from the Commerce Department showed.

Business invetories: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-STOCKS/lgpdwnaznvo/businv.png

U.S. retail sales surge as Americans kick off holiday shopping, brighten economic outlook
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email