U.S. Retail Sales Surged in October Despite Inflation

U.S. retail sales grew in October as consumers continue to spend despite rising prices.

Total U.S. retail sales were $694.5 billion in October, according to a monthly report from the U.S. Census Bureau. This total was up 1.3% from September and 8.3% from the same month in 2021. This compares with the 8.2% year over year growth in September and the 9.4% yearly increase in August.

“October retail sales data confirms that consumers continue to stretch their dollars on household priorities, including gifts for family and loved ones this holiday season,” said National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew Shay in a Wednesday release, adding that a strong labor market and excess savings will likely fuel a strong five-day holiday shopping weekend.

Between August and October 2022, total sales were up 8.9% from the prior year.

The report comes as inflation begins to show signs of cooling. Consumer prices rose by 7.7% in October compared to last year, according to a Thursday report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This marked a slowdown from September’s 8.2% year over year growth. Compared to September 2022, prices in October were up 0.4%.

As for the holiday season, NRF is predicting sales to grow, though at a slower rate than last year. Total sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 are expected to grow between 6% and 8% compared to 2021, representing a total of between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion in sales, on top of last year’s record-breaking 13.5% growth to $889.3 billion.

While inflation has continued to soar for several months, consumer spending has remained relatively consistent.

“October’s performance is a strong foothold as we go into the holiday season,” said NRF’s chief economist Jack Kleinhenz in a statement. “Spending has gradually slowed but remains solid. Consumers continue to show resiliency despite elevated inflation, rising borrowing costs and widespread macroeconomic uncertainties.”

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