Following August’s slump (worst since Jan ’16), September’s retail sales data was expected to surge 1.7% MoM (thanks in large part to the spike in auto sales) but it disappointed with a 1.6% spike (still the most since March 2015).
U.S. retail sales jumped last month by the most in more than two years as motor vehicles lost to hurricanes were quickly replaced and higher prices lifted receipts at gasoline stations, Commerce Department figures showed Friday.
The main drivers (as expected) were a surge in gas prices (biggest gain in 4 years) and auto sales (biggest since March 2015).
8 of 13 major retail categories showed a gain.
As Bloomberg reports, vehicle sales helped to drive the overall gain at retailers in September. Demand recovered after auto dealerships around Houston, among the top markets for new-vehicle sales, took a hit from Hurricane Harvey a month earlier. Industry figures released last week showed cars and light trucks sold in September at the fastest annualized rate since 2005.
The September report also showed the biggest monthly advance in sales at service stations since February 2013, reflecting a spike in gasoline prices as Houston-area refiners were forced to suspend operations in the wake of Harvey. The Commerce Department figures aren’t adjusted for price changes.
Excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, September sales increased a more moderate 0.5 percent. While analysts expect tropical storm-related distortions will continue for several months, underlying demand is expected to keep growing. Steady hiring and limited inflation are helping to sustain household spending, the biggest part of the economy.