Sept. retail sales rise 2.6 percent, but pace of growth slows
Retailers managed another month of sales gains in September, according to data released this morning, but the pace of improvement has slowed since the summer.
The International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade group, reported that sales at stores open at least a year -- a key measure of retail health -- rose 2.6 percent in September compared with a year ago. The figure is based on sales data at roughly 30 national chain stores that reported results, and performance was uneven across the industry.
Growth, however, is lagging. Same-store sales rose about 3 percent over the summer, and September's increase is the smallest since May, according to ICSC.
Analysts expected September to get a boost from late back-to-school shopping, though some of those purchases could simply eat into October sales.
"We think it could be tough" for October to sales to outperform last month's, wrote Amy Noblin, a retail analyst for Weeden & Co.
Luxury retail enjoyed the biggest jump of any sector, up 6.6 percent. ICSC Chief Economist Michael P. Niemira said consumer confidence has increased significantly among high-income households, driving the gains. Meanwhile, sales at discount stores inched up 1.2 percent.
Retail sales are closely watched for signs of where the economy might be headed. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the gross domestic product, and the shopping bonanza of the holiday season is critical to the nation's health.
A survey released today by consumer behavior research firm NPD Group found that shoppers are essentially in a holding pattern from 2009. About 61 percent of consumers say they plan to spend the same as last year, up from 59 percent in 2009. The percentage of shoppers who say they will spend more has dropped from 11 percent to 9 percent.
"Even though the recession is technically over, lingering concerns are keeping consumers in a cautious frame of mind," said Marshal Cohen, NPD's chief industry analyst. "We are seeing what I call 'calculated consumption,' and I believe that it is a consumer mind-set that will be around after holiday shopping is over."
Ylan Q. Mui
| October 7, 2010; 11:40 AM ET
Categories: Retail, U.S. Economy
Save & Share: Previous: Morning briefing: More calls for yuan flexibility
Next: IMF official moonlights as author of 'financial terror' thriller
Posted by: prime99 | October 7, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dawnclarke | October 8, 2010 6:55 AM | Report abuse