Retail sales in September increased 0.5% over August on a seasonally adjusted basis and were up 3.2% year-over-year unadjusted, according to figures from the National Retail Federation. The sales figures exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.
Perhaps not surprisingly, building materials and supplies stores showed the strongest gains, up 2.1% in September from August and up 7.7% year-over-year. The impacts of major storms including hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria were cited as factors in the increase.
Year-over-year sales at general merchandise stores were up 4.7%, electronics and appliance stores sales were down 5.3%, furniture and home furnishings sales were up 1.4% while sales at health and personal care stores were down 0.6%
“Retail appears to have navigated through some rough weather, literally,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist. “Hurricane impacts were very clear, with a strong boost for building materials going a long way to offset downturns elsewhere. Results were mixed among several business lines but the bottom line was a good increase over August and strong growth from a year ago. While the hurricanes played a major role in the data, they did not fundamentally affect the upward path of the economy.”