WASHINGTON-In a month-to-month comparison, U.S. retail sales in October dropped 0.3 percent from September, totaling $411.6 billion on an adjusted basis, according to the monthly retail sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Compared to October of last year, retail sales were up 3.8 percent. In its statement on the report, the National Retail Federation attributed the month-to-month slide to the impact of Hurricane Sandy and consumer concerns over the “fiscal cliff”—the set of automatic tax increases and federal spending cuts slated to take effect at the end of this year. The cliff “may have more of an impact on business confidence and consumer spending than any other issue,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO.
In the retail channels tracked by HFN, furniture and home furnishings stores’ sales in October decreased 0.6 percent month to month, but rose 5.3 percent year over year. Sales at general merchandise stores rose 0.2 percent from September and were flat compared with last year. Department-store sales (excluding leased departments) fell 0.3 percent month to month and 0.9 percent from October 2011.
Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist, said Hurricane Sandy’s impact could be felt over both the short term and the long term, especially in the hardest-hit areas in the Northeast. However, “NRF remains confident in moderate consumer spending nationwide, and expects a solid holiday shopping season,” Kleinhenz said.