US Retail Sales Rise 1.9 Percent in September, Beating Economists’ Expectations

by Alex Tostado

Washington, D.C. — Retail sales increased 1.9 percent month-over-month in September, the U.S. Commerce Department reports. The most recent figure is 70 basis points higher than what economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast. Total sales reached $549.3 billion in September, which marked the fifth consecutive month of retail sales growth amid the coronavirus pandemic. In February, the total monthly spending reached $527 billion.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the sectors with the largest gains were clothing and accessories (11 percent), sporting goods stores (5.7 percent) and general merchandise stores (1.8 percent). Electronics and appliance store sales declined 1.6 percent month-over-month.

“Retail sales are continuing to build on the momentum we’ve seen through the summer and have been boosted by an improving labor market, a rebound in consumer confidence and elevated savings,” says Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist. “A significant number of people remain unemployed, but more are going back to work, and that makes them confident about spending.”

Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, says he is optimistic spending will be strong this holiday season. “While it’s been a challenging year for everyone, there’s been an enormous amount of innovation within the retail industry, and retailers have demonstrated that we can keep the economy open and operating safely.”

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