Retail Sales Jumped 1.7 Percent in October

The 1.7 percent increase is in part a result of higher prices, but it shows that American consumer spending remains strong.,


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Retail sales jumped in October in a third straight month of gains.

Customers at an L.L. Bean store in New Jersey.Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Nov. 16, 2021, 8:40 a.m. ET

Retail sales rose for the third straight month in October, even as companies increased prices for goods and dealt with shipping delays, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages ahead of the holiday season.

Sales climbed 1.7 percent following a 0.8 percent increase in September, the Commerce Department reported on Tuesday.

A rise in consumer prices is partially driving the gains, with the costs of food, gasoline and other household goods climbing sharply. Consumer prices rose 6.2 percent in October from a year earlier, its fastest pace in three decades, the Consumer Price Index showed. The increases come as businesses continue to face supply chain woes and a higher demand for goods.

Employers have tried to ease labor shortages by raising wages, which could lead to higher prices for consumers to cover the costs.

“While consumers were able to enjoy very strong purchasing power since the pandemic started, it has recently begun to shift, not because of a lack of income support but because more of that income is forced to go to higher prices,” Economists at Bank of America said in an analysis released on Friday.

Economists expect retail sales to remain robust through the holiday season, despite consumer sentiment falling to its lowest level in a decade, according to a survey by the University of Michigan, which measures consumer expectations and optimism regarding the economy.

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