September Sales: Americans Bought iPhones, Not Autos

Retail sales rose very slightly in September, as Americans likely purchased Apple's new iPhone and leisure goods, but sliding auto sales worry economists.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported today (October 29) that retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline and building materials increased 0.5 percent in September after a 0.2 percent gain in August. The good news is that core sales were boosted by a 0.7 percent advance in receipts at electronics and appliance stores. Economists had expected core retail sales to rise only 0.4 percent during September.

The bad news is that auto sales dropped 2.2 percent, the biggest decline since October of 2012, pushing down overall retail sales 0.1 percent. Economists had expected retail sales to grow 0.1 percent last month. 

However, Millan Mulraine, director of U.S. rates research at TD Securities USA LLC, was positive about the overall results. "We ended the quarter on a fairly solid note. Whether this buoyancy can be sustained remains a question after the hit to consumer confidence from the shutdown," he told Bloomberg.

Apple reported sales of 33.8 million iPhones in the September quarter, which likely led to September's 0.5 percent increase, excluding autos. Consumers also bought furniture, sporting goods, building materials, and garden equipment. However, clothing sales fell 0.5 percent, the biggest fall since April of 2012. 

For more, see:
This Bloomberg article
This CNBC article

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