By Lenore Fedow
U.S. retail sales were up 0.3 percent month-over-month in October to $553.3 billion.
New York—Consumer spending in the United States was on the rise in October as shoppers got a head start on holiday shopping.

Overall retail sales were up 0.3 percent month-over-month in October to $553.3 billion, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, climbing 5.7 percent year-over-year.

The results missed analyst expectations of a 0.5 percent in October, stymied by a rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases and a decline in household income.

As with other months, September’s numbers were revised to reflect more recent information. 

Sales were up 1.6 percent month-over-month in September, rather than the previously reported 1.9 percent gain.

National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay highlighted that retail sales have grown for six months in a row and continue to perform better than the same period a year ago.

Shay credited the growth to the economy’s continued recovery and customers getting an early start on holiday shopping.

The NRF’s research showed 42 percent of consumers began holiday shopping sooner than usual this year.

Consumers are expected to spend an average of $997.79 this year, down $50 from 2019, as per the NRF survey.

“Consumers have proven their resilience and willingness to spend as we head into the heart of the holiday season and retailers continue to demonstrate their commitment and ability to ensure safe shopping environments for their customers and their associates, with deep discounts, robust inventory and great experiences whether in store or online,” said Shay in a press release.

NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said the rise in retail sales was good news amid the “unusual” economy and the growing number of new COVID-19 cases.

“The rise in COVID-19 cases continues to be a factor that weighs on consumer perceptions, sentiment and spending and there could be retrenchment if we cannot thwart this latest wave,” said Kleinhenz.

“Nonetheless, retailers are well-prepared to safely fulfill holiday shopping lists, and the October results suggest so far, so good.” 

The NRF also calculates monthly retail sales, narrowing in on core retail and excluding auto sales, gas stations, and restaurants.

Its calculations show October sales were up 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from September and up 11 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Online sales led the charge, up month-over-month and year-over-year, which was attributed to Amazon moving Prime Day from July to October as well as other online promotions.

Seven out of nine retail categories saw year-over-year increases, according to the NRF.

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