WASHINGTON — Retail sales growth during September was stronger than private sector expectations and signals a broadening economic recovery, the U.S. Department of Commerce here said Friday.
Sales excluding automobiles improved by 0.4% vs. August figures and increased by 5.4% as compared to last September. Total retail sales for the year-to-date were up 6.3%, the agency said, with food retailers showing 2.3% sales growth vs. last year.
“Retail sales have shown strong growth over the last three months,” Gary Locke, Commerce secretary, said in a statement. “This ring trend signals that consumer spending is expanding and that the recovery is broadening. The outlook for sustained growth remains positive.”
The National Retail Federation in a separate statement Friday sounded a note of caution. “There’s no question that the industry is in a much better state than this time last year, however consumers are still very reliant on sales and promotions,” Matthew Shay, NRF president and chief executive officer, said.
“It is encouraging to see increases in key discretionary spending categories, marking a significant change in what retailers experienced throughout the economic downturn.”