October 18, 2017 – Retail Sales are the total amount of merchandise and related services sold to consumers. It is considered a sign of strength of U.S. Consumer spending, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of the economy. This indicator also provides insight into which areas of the retail space are experiencing strong sales, such as auto sales.
Retail sales jumped 1.6% in September from the previous months revised -0.1%. Despite the large gain in sales, it was still below the consensus of a 1.8% gain. Year-over-year sales are up 4.4%. Retail sales less autos rose 1.0% from the previous month when the consensus was 0.8% growth. Sales excluding auto and gas were up 0.5% in September, slightly above the consensus of 0.4%. The control group had a 0.4% gain as well, also above the consensus of 0.2%.
A main contributor to the boost in retail sales was the demand for replacement cars (+3.6%) that were totaled by the hurricanes. Gasoline prices are expected to decline once oil refineries and rigs get up and running again with a steady flow of gas. Taking out cars and gas, there was still a 0.5% increase in sales. Building materials, grocery stores, and restaurants promoted higher retail sales with increases of 2.1%, 1.0%, and 0.8% respectively.