Consumer Spending: A Surge In September
Oct 16, 2012
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September 2012 U.S. retail sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.4% seasonally adjusted from August, and 2.1% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Electronics and appliance store sales increased 4.5%, seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and 2.5% unadjusted year-over-year.

"In spite of the uncertainty and unease surrounding our nation's high unemployment and long-term fiscal challenges, consumers continue to spend and shop," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "Robust back-to-school spending combined with a series of new, technology-led product launches certainly helped retailers in September. The American consumer is holding their own in this economic environment but the question remains, for how long?"

September retail sales, released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed total retail and food services sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 1.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 5.4% unadjusted year-over-year.

"With recent data painting a more optimistic view of consumer confidence, we can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel," NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. "While the latest retail sales data indicates continued improvement for the economy, increasing gas prices and the looming fiscal cliff still pose serious challenges to the momentum we've seen in consumer spending."

Other findings:
* Furniture and home furnishing store sales were up 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 5.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
* General merchandise store sales were up 0.3% seasonally adjusted month-to-month but were down 1.2% unadjusted year-over-year.
* Nonstore retailer sales increased 1.8% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 8.7% unadjusted year-over-year.

NRF's revised definition of retail sales now includes "auto parts, accessories and tire stores" and "nonstore" sales. The group is now projecting full-year 2012 retail sales growth of 4.5%.

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