U.S. Retail Sales Dip Slightly in October
For the first time in seven months, U.S. retail sales have gone slightly down, according to monthly sales figures from the Commerce Department released Wednesday. October saw a 0.1 percent dip in retail sales over the month prior, suggesting a possible slowdown in consumers' spending after the summer and leading up to the holidays. The dip follows six straight months of gains.
Total monthly sales for October was $705 billion, compared to $705.7 billion in September. Sales are still up 2.5 percent from the same time last year, and total sales were up 3.1 percent between August and October, compared to the same time period a year ago. Excluding sales in the categories of auto, gas, building materials, and restaurant meals, the total sales figure actually rose .2 percent month-over-month.
Total Retail's Take: "Today’s retail sales report reflects moderating inflation, though prices remain high and affordability is a concern for shoppers going into the holiday season," said Claire Tassin, a retail and e-commerce analyst at decision intelligence company Morning Consult. "We’ve recently seen upticks in the shares of U.S. consumers who are delaying major purchases, shopping less overall, and shifting to generic products or discount stores in order to make their household expenses more manageable."
With the holiday season underway, expect to see the usual discounts and deals over the next 40 days or so, said David Silverman, a senior director at credit rating agency Fitch Ratings. "Retailers in the best position are those that bought inventory conservatively, limiting the need to execute unplanned promotions to clear goods, and those with the agility to react quickly to a volatile and ever-changing consumer spending environment."