Spending is back: September retail sales were up 0.7%, well above expectations

Although consumer confidence turned down in September, it didn’t keep shoppers away from the marketplace. The U.S. Census Bureau reports

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for September 2021, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $625.4 billion, an increase of 0.7 percent (±0.5 percent) from the previous month, and 13.9 percent (±0.7 percent) above September 2020. Total sales for the July 2021 through September 2021 period were up 14.9 percent (±0.7 percent) from the same period a year ago. The July 2021 to August 2021 percent change was revised from up 0.7 percent (±0.5 percent) to up 0.9 percent (±0.2 percent).

Retail trade sales were up 0.8 percent (±0.4 percent) from August 2021, and up 12.2 percent (±0.7 percent) above last year. Gasoline stations were up 38.2 percent (±1.6 percent) from September 2020, while food services and drinking places were up 29.5 percent (±3.7 percent) from last year.

Expectations were for a much smaller increase, as CNBC reports.

Consumers spent at a much faster pace than expected in September, defying expectations for a pullback amid pervasive supply chain problems, the Census Bureau reported Friday.

Retail sales for the month increased by 0.7%, against the Dow Jones estimate for a decline of 0.2%. Excluding auto-related sales, the number rose 0.8%, better than the 0.5% forecast.

Compared with a year ago, sales were up 13.9% on the headline number and 15.6% excluding autos.

Price increases played a role, as the Wall Street Journal reports.

The rise in sales also partly reflects higher consumer prices, which advanced 0.4% in September from August and 5.4% from a year earlier. The retail sales, which aren’t adjusted for inflation, rose 13.9% in September from a year earlier.

Labor shortages, inflation, and supply-chain problems remain threats to the recovery, but so far consumers, still flush with cash, are willing to spend if they can find what they’re looking for.