Recent retail sales growth translates into a promising outlook for the upcoming holiday season. In October 2013, total retail sales jumped 0.4 percent, quadrupling the consensus estimate expectations that had been posted of a 0.1 percent improvement (with September’s figures revised to 0.0 percent from -0.1 percent). Leading sales figures here include solid performances in furniture (1.0 percent) and electronics (1.4 percent) sales during the month. Other strong showings include clothing sales (1.4 percent) and, most notably, eating and drinking, or restaurant, sales (1.0 percent). The retail sales control group number, which feeds into GDP (gross domestic product) calculations, rose 0.4 percent, which was above the 0.3 percent consensus estimate. Here, September’s number was revised to 0.3 percent from 0.4 percent.
So what does this mean for the next several weeks? According to Gluskin Sheff and Associates’ Chief Economist and Strategist David Rosenberg, these figures bode well for the entire holiday season, as when people are financially comfortable enough to spend money in restaurants, it means they are ready to put down money for gifts. As Rosenberg states, “if people are willing to eat out, the most discretionary of discretionary activity, then they are certainly are not going to chintz on their holiday shopping.” Rosenberg credits the drop in gas prices for putting money back into the economy.
Gennadiy Goldberg, U.S. Rates Strategist at TD Securities, concurs. As he explains, “With gasoline prices likely to remain contained in the near-term, we may see stronger consumption trends persist over the next few months, helping to lessen the anticipated impact of the government shutdown on Q4 growth expectations.”
The specific breakdown of the October 2013 U.S. retail sales data is as follows. Excluding autos, sales rose 0.2 percent better than the 0.1 percent consensus estimate (with September’s numbers revised to 0.3 percent from 0.4 percent). When both automobiles and gasoline were excluded, sales rose 0.3 percent, also better than the 0.2 percent consensus estimate (with Septembers number again revised to 0.3 percent from 0.4 percent).
Boesler, Matthew. “Retail Sales Growth Quadruples Expectations.” Business Insider. 11/20/13.
Perlberg, Steven. “Rosenberg: Get Ready for a Lot of Spending This Holiday Season.” Business Insider. 11/21/13.