Retail Sales Surged in September

U.S. retail and food services sales totaled $483.9 billion in September, an increase of 1.6 percent compared with August, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's recent report. Year-over-year core sales increased 4.6%.

The report also showed a notable rebound in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, which surged up by 3.6 percent in September after tumbling by 2.1 percent. As a standalone category, auto sales were up 3.6 percent for the month and 4 percent for the year.

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Americans increased their spending at retailers last month by the most in two and a half years, driven by strong auto sales as residents of hurricane-ravaged areas replaced destroyed cars. The nine-month total for gas stations is up 8.5% year over year, due largely to higher pump prices. Department stores posted a month-over-month sales decrease of 0.4% and a year-over-year decline of 0.5%. Non-store (internet) continued to eat the lunch of certain of those losing categories (especially electronics), with sales up 0.5 percent for the month and 9.2 percent for the year. The largest year-over-year gains came from gas stations (up 11.4%) and building material and garden equipment and supplies stores (up 10.7%). Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores had a month-over-month sales decline of 0.2% and a year-over-year drop of 5.5%.

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