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US Retail Sales Rise Ahead of Holidays

Nov 17, 2019 8:01 AM   By Rapaport News
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US retail sales showed “particularly impressive” growth in October as shoppers prepared for the upcoming holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Total purchases for October — excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants — rose 0.2% compared to the previous month, according to data the NRF published Friday. Monthly sales climbed 4.2% year on year for the period, particularly impressive given the sharp growth in the same period a year ago, when sales were up an unusually strong 5.8%, NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz explained.

“Despite the gradual slowdown in the US economy, consumers are in a good place and October’s retail sales are a step forward into the all-important holiday season,” Kleinhenz added.

However, imports at the US’s major retail container ports have been impacted by the trade war leading up to the holiday season, the NRF noted. In August, prior to the first round of tariffs which was implemented in September, imports saw their second-highest level on record, according to data from NRF’s Global Port Tracker. In September, imports inched up 0.2% year on year to 1.87 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU), but fell 4.7% from the previous month.

NRF expects October imports to decline 5.2% from the same month a year ago, while November is predicted to be up 8.3% year on year prior to the last round of tariffs, scheduled to take effect December 15. While President Donald Trump announced a tentative agreement on a partial trade deal with China last month, the measure has not yet been signed.

Meanwhile, 165.3 million people plan to shop over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey the NRF conducted with Prosper Insights & Analytics. Of those, 39.6 million expect to shop on Thanksgiving Day, while 114.6 million will spend their money on Black Friday. Nearly 100 million will buy goods on Saturday and Sunday, while 68.7 million will lay out cash on Cyber Monday.

“We expect the biggest increase in potential shoppers for Thanksgiving Day this year,” Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy for Prosper Insights, said. “We anticipate that people may head to stores if they are open, or shop from their phones while watching football.”

Of those planning to shop, most are younger consumers, with 88% of 18- to 24-year-olds heading to the stores, and 84% of those aged 25 to 34 running out to purchase goods, NRF noted. About 47% will buy in-store, while 41% expect to shop online.

Some 65% of consumers say they plan to purchase over the holiday period because the deals are too good to pass up, while 28% cite tradition as their main reason. Of the consumers who indicated they did not expect to shop over the holidays, more than half stated something could convince them to make a purchase, with the top motivator being a sale or discount offered on items they want.

Image: Customers shopping at a US mall. (Shutterstock)
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Tags: black friday, cyber monday, Donald Trump, Global Port Tracker, Jack Kleinhenz, National Retail Federation, NRF, Phil Rist, Prosper Insights & Analytics, Rapaport News, US retail sales
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