Minus Cars, Retail Sales Up

Don Hogsett, November 28, 2005

Washington — Hit hard by slumping car sales, U.S. retail sales dipped 0.1 percent during October to a seasonally adjusted $351.6 billion, the Commerce Department reported.

But traffic at the malls was brisker than at the car lots, and when highly volatile car sales are pulled out of the equation, retail sales actually improved 0.9 percent, with most major channels of distribution reporting gains.

Doing virtually all the damage, car retailers weakened further after a 3.9 percent drop in September.

The strongest channel during October was clothing and accessories retailers, where sales climbed 3.1 percent as cooler weather started to kick in, spurring sales of cold-weather apparel.

Home-related categories were among the month's gainers, with furniture and home furnishings stores gaining by 0.7 percent and building on an even stronger 1.6 percent increase in September. As consumers began to rebuild following a trio of devastating hurricanes, sales of building material and garden supply retailers surged 2.1 percent adding to a 1.7 percent increase the preceding month.

Retail Sales in October
(by channel)

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce
Clothing & accessories 3.1%
Bldg. mat./garden supp. 2.1
Department stores 1.5
Non-store retailers 1.2
Restaurants and bars 0.9
Furn. & home furn. stores 0.7
Grocery stores 0.6
Sporting goods, books 0.6
Electronics & appliances 0.4
Health & personal care 0.4
Car Dealers -4.1%
Gas stations -0.8

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