Prices on consumer goods are rising in the United States and tangled supply chains are making it harder for shoppers to always get exactly what they want. But these factors are not yet slowing down US shoppers.
Consumers are still dishing out on sporting goods, clothing, furniture, and groceries and spending at bars and restaurants, data from the Commerce Department showed Friday.
Retail sales in September grew 0.7% from the month earlier, beating economists’ forecast for a 0.2% decline. Retail sales in August were also revised upward to a 0.9% monthly increase, up from a previous estimate of 0.7%.
The data are promising signs about consumers heading into the winter and pivotal holiday shopping stretch for retailers, despite higher prices, shortages and Covid-19 cases.
“Consumer spending has been remarkably resilient throughout [the pandemic], especially on goods,” Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, said in an email to clients Friday. “Many Americans have already started their holiday shopping and retailers should have a strong holiday season.”
In September, sales at sporting goods, hobby and musical instrument stores jumped 3.7% from the month prior. Sales at clothing stores and furniture stores increased 1.1% and 0.2% respectively. Online sales rose 0.6%.
Auto sales rose 0.5% in September, even as a shortage of computer chips and shutdowns at auto factories choked off some vehicle supply. US automakers have reported a drop in new car sales.
Although the data topped forecasts, some economists still caution that supply chain disruptions and inflation may hold back some shoppers in the coming months.
“With goods shortages likely to persist, and the resulting surge in prices eating into real incomes, we expect consumption growth to remain subdued,” Andrew Hunter, senior US economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients Friday.