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US Retail Sales on Recovery Path

Oct 18, 2020 8:48 AM   By Rapaport News
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US retail sales rose in September, marking the fourth straight month of year-on-year gains, and nearly doubling August’s increase, government data showed.

Overall retail sales grew 5.4% compared to the same period last year, and 1.9% from the previous month, as consumers began purchasing for the holiday season, according to figures the US Census Bureau released Friday. That followed a 0.6% month-on-month and 2.8% year-on-year rise in August, the National Retail Federation (NRF) noted.

“We’re optimistic about the prospects for a strong holiday season, as people want something to look forward to and bring joy to their lives,” said NRF CEO Matthew Shay.

An improvement in the economic situation also boosted sales during the month, as the labor market and consumer confidence rebounded and consumers expected further government support.

“A significant number of people remain unemployed, but more are going back to work, and that makes them confident about spending,” maintained NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz.

Income that would normally be dedicated to travel and entertainment outside the home is also being rerouted to retail, especially given the early start and elevated savings many retailers are providing for the holiday season this year, Kleinhenz added.

In fact, imports reached a record high during the summer, with retailers stocking up early for the holiday season, according to the Global Port Tracker report the NRF and Hackett Associates released. Imports came to 2.1 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) in August, the highest number of containers imported in a single month since the NRF began tracking imports in 2002. Inbound shipments for September are expected to climb 11% year on year to 2.08 million TEU, the second-highest month on record.

“Nothing about this year is predictable, but retailers are making sure their shelves and warehouses are well-stocked for the holidays,” noted Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “They are also stocking up earlier than usual because they know many consumers will be shopping early this year to avoid crowds and shipping delays. Some holiday merchandise that normally wouldn’t arrive until Halloween is already here.”

Image: A woman shopping for holiday gifts wearing a mask. (Shutterstock)
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Tags: Hackett Associates, holiday season, Jack Kleinhenz, Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation, NRF, Rapaport News, US Census Bureau, US retail sales
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