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Retail Sales Slip In October As Consumers Pull Back After Summer Splurges

Bruno T
Macro
November 15 2023 4:23AM

In October, Americans scaled back their retail spending, breaking a streak of six consecutive months of growth. However, this decline was partly attributed to decreasing prices for gasoline and automobiles.

According to a report released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday, retail sales decreased by 0.1% last month, following a robust 0.9% increase in September. It’s worth noting that the September figure was revised upward from the initial report of a 0.7% gain. When excluding sales of gasoline and automobiles, retail sales saw a modest 0.1% uptick.

These numbers reflect a slowdown in consumer willingness to spend following an exuberant summer period. Consumer spending surged in the July-September quarter, but economists anticipate a slowdown in the final three months of the year. This is attributed to the rise in credit card debt and delinquencies, along with a decrease in average savings.

The report also indicates that online spending increased by 0.2% last month. However, sales at general merchandise stores declined by 0.2%, and sales at home furnishings and furniture stores plummeted by 2%.

Recent U.S. data has shown that a surge in consumer spending has propelled strong economic growth, defying expectations of economists and the Federal Reserve. This contrasts with the somewhat negative sentiments expressed by Americans themselves in opinion polls.