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US Retail Sales Drop in October

Hurricane Sandy, looming taxes affect spending.

Hurricane Sandy and potential tax increases hurt U.S. retail sales during the month of October, as figures dropped for the first time in three months.

The National Retail Federation found that sales shrank 0.3 percent in October compared to September. However, they were up 3.9 percent compared to the same time last year.

Clothing and accessories stores saw a 0.1-percent dip in sales in October compared to September, and a 4.2-percent increase year over year; electronics and appliance shops noted a 1-percent month-to-month drop and a 4.2-percent year-over-year increase; furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales fell 0.6 percent month to month and increased 7.3 percent year over year.

Jack Kleinhenz, the chief economist at NRF, says Hurricane Sandy likely affected U.S. retail sales and will impact spending in the areas most affected. He adds that the impact on the economy could be short and long term.

“The underlying strength of the American consumer is encouraging, but it’s far from definitive,” he continues.

Matthew Shay, NRF’s president and CEO, says possible automatic tax increases and spending cuts Americans could face at the end of the year may have also influenced shoppers’ decisions to keep money in their wallets instead of spending it.

He says “it’s imperative” policymakers in Washington address those possible tax hikes to give shoppers “some certainty heading into the holiday shopping season.”

But it wasn’t all bad news for U.S. retail sales in October. Health and personal care stores did see a slight growth in sales with a 0.3-percent gain compared to September and a 2.1-percent year-over-year increase. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores saw sales increase 0.5 percent compared to September and 5.4 percent year over year, NRF reports.

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About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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