Retail Sales Rebound Ahead of Holiday Shopping Season

In this Nov. 9, 2018, photo shoppers look at televisions at a Walmart Supercenter in Houston. On Thursday, Nov. 15, the Commerce Department releases U.S. retail sales data for October. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

(CN) – Retail sales rebounded sharply in October as consumers stepped up their purchases of motor vehicles and damage from hurricanes impacting the Southeast caused a spike in the sales of building materials, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Overall, retail sales increased 0.8 percent last month, after seeing a 0.1 percent decline in September.

Auto sales jumped 1.1 percent in October, and building material sales saw a 1.0 percent increase.

Consumers also spent more in clothing stores, book stores and with online retailers.

Meanwhile, spending at restaurants and bars actually declined by 0.2 percent.

The report bodes well for the uncoming holiday shopping season as the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 49 years continues to boost wages.

In a separate report Thursday, the Labor Department said there was a slight increase in  the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week.

In the week ending November 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 216,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 214,000.

The 4-week moving average was 215,250, an increase of 1,500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 213,750.


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