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Retail sales rise faster than expected in October even as inflation pushes prices higher


U.S. shoppers accelerated their level of spending in October even as the prices of goods jumped at their fastest pace since the 1990s, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Retail sales, a measure of how much consumers spent on goods ranging across categories from autos to sporting goods and food and gas, increased 1.7% for October, compared with 0.8% the previous month.

Excluding autos, sales also increased 1.7%, according to the Census Bureau advance estimate.

The two numbers were above the Dow Jones estimates of 1.5% for the headline print and 1% for the core sales gain.

Online shopping posted the biggest relative gain for the month, rising 4% and good for a 10.2% gain from a year ago. Soaring prices at the pump pushed gasoline sales up 3.9% in October. Year over year, sales increases at stations have surged 46.8%.

The news comes after the consumer price index, measuring a similar basket of goods, increased 0.9% for October and 6.2% year over year. That year-over-year gain was the strongest since 1991. Even excluding food and energy, the CPI was up 0.6% from the previous month and 4.6% year over year.


The Strawhecker Group (TSG) and the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) surveyed U.S. consumers to understand spending habits, payments preferences, and opinions on emerging payment technologies this holiday season.

Read some of the highlights below and download TSG and ETA’s infographic, Consumer Spend Sparks Holiday Cheer.

Quick Hits

  • 78% of respondents plan to spend the same or more than they did last year, a 14% increase from last year’s poll
  • 56% are worried about shipping delays and 47% are worried about the safety of shopping in-store due to COVID
  • Spending data shows a 14% increase in total transactions year-over-year, according to TSG’s Acquiring Industry Metrics (AIM) platform
    • Plus, consumers are spending almost 7% more on their retail eCommerce transactions year-over-year
  • 84% of consumers plan to shop online, but almost as many, 72%, will spend time shopping in-person
  • 67% of BNPL users plan to keep using these services this year, compared to 48% last year, meaning popularity has grown 19%!