Retail sales remained brisk at American businesses last month, despite shortages of some goods and a wave of inflation that has pushed prices higher, government data released today showed.
US retail sales rose 1.7% in October, the Commerce Department reported, the biggest month-on-month jump since March and above expectations.
A range of businesses propelled the indicator measuring the shopping habits of consumers in the world's largest economy, and likely reflected at least in part a rush to buy ahead of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, according to analysts.
Car dealers saw sales rise 1.8% as cars remain scarce and pricy due to the worldwide shortage of crucial semiconductors.
Fuel station sales climbed 3.9% amid rising energy prices as global economies recover, the data showed.
The report indicates the resilience of American consumers as they head into the key shopping season with inflation rising at its fastest rate in more than three decades, and supply chain snarls making some popular items potentially difficult to obtain.
"An improving Covid situation, easing supply constraints in the auto sector and an early start to holiday shopping all boosted purchases last month," Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics said.
However, business at the bars and restaurants that were hardest hit by last year's pandemic restrictions was flat last month. Sales at health and personal care stores and clothing retailers declined by less than 1%.
Nonstore retailers, such as e-commerce platforms, saw sales gain 4%, while electronics and appliance stores reported a 3.8% increase.
Sales at building materials, garden equipment and supply dealers rose 2.8%, while at department stores, they increased by 2.2%.
While the University of Michigan last week reported that its consumer sentiment index had dropped to a 10-year low, Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said the retail sales data show "what people do is much more important than what they say."
"We expect a blockbuster holiday season as people make up for lost time and begin to run down some of the $2.5 trillion in accumulated excess savings since the pandemic began," he predicted.