Retail Sales in September Increase Most in 2-Plus Years
U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest increase in two-and-a-half years in September likely as reconstruction and clean-up efforts in areas devastated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma boosted demand for building materials and motor vehicles. The Commerce Department said on Friday retail sales jumped 1.6 percent last month, also buoyed by a surge in receipts at services stations, which reflected higher gasoline prices after Harvey disrupted production at oil refineries in the Gulf Coast. Last month’s increase in retail sales was the largest since March 2015, and was a 4.4 percent increase year-over-year. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales increased 0.4 percent last month after being unchanged in August.
Total Retail's Take: It's not uncommon to see an economic boost following a natural disaster, and that seems to be in play here — at least partially. Some of the stronger segments in September were online sales (up .5 percent) and apparel retail sales (up .4 percent). This encouraging news hopefully drives consumer confidence as we move into the holiday shopping season, a critical time for the retail industry. With all of the negative press earlier this year surrounding the record number of store closings and the supposed "death of retail," a strong Q4 would be welcomed heartily by the industry.