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Overall retail sales holding strong, while restaurants and department stores continue to struggle

Overall Retail Sales Jump

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the Advance Monthly Sales for Retail Trade and Food Services Survey to provide an early estimate of monthly sales for retail and food service firms nationwide. Each month, questionnaires are mailed to a sample of about 5,500 firms selected from the larger Monthly Retail Trade Survey.


On Tuesday, the Census Bureau released the following:

⦁ Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for October 2020, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $553.3 billion, an increase of 0.3% from the previous month and 5.7% above October 2019

⦁ Total sales for the August 2020 through October 2020 period were up 5.1% from the same period a year ago

⦁ The August 2020 to September 2020 percent change was revised from up 1.9% to up 1.6%

⦁ Retail trade sales were up 0.3% from September 2020 and 8.5% above last year

⦁ Nonstore retailers were up 29.1% from October 2019

⦁ Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 19.5% from last year


A few more interesting nuggets from the release:

⦁ Restaurants are still hurting, down 0.1% on the month and 14.2% on the year

⦁ Department stores are struggling, down 4.6% on the month and 11.9% on the year

⦁ Clothing is also hurting, down 4.2% on the month and 12.6% on the year

⦁ Electronics and appliance stores are up 1.2% on the month but down 3.9% on the year


It should be noted that this report is about the demand for goods, not services. So while it does not paint a complete picture, it does reaffirm that retail has done well despite the pandemic headwinds.


The November 2020 Advance Monthly Retail report is scheduled for release on December 16, 2020 at 8:30 a.m.

More from the U.S. Census Bureau

At the very bottom of the November 11th press release from the U.S. Census Bureau is this:

The Rest of the Consumer Spending Story

Retail and services together represent what's commonly referred to as consumer spending. Quarterly Services Survey (QSS) revenue comprises roughly 2/3 of the personal consumption expenditures component of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product measured by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The third quarter 2020 Advance Quarterly Services Report will be available on November 18, 2020 at 10:00 AM.


More Data Later This Week

More economic data will be released later this week, including Housing Starts and Permits and MBA Mortgage Applications on Wednesday and Jobless Claims, Existing Home Sales, e-Commerce Retail Sales and Leading Indicators on Thursday.


Sources: census.gov


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