Nov 15, 2023 - Economy

Consumer spending slows in October after booming September

Pedestrians carrying shopping bags walk past the Macy's Inc. flagship store on Monday, Nov. 13. Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Consumers reined in their spending last month as retail sales fell 0.1% in October, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The data suggests that U.S. consumers pumped the brakes after a strong September that saw retail sales exceed prior estimates.

The big picture: Spending in September was even stronger than originally thought. The data was revised up by 0.2 percentage points to 0.9%.

  • The October data showed economic activity was cooler, though still strong — the type of development Federal Reserve officials want to see.
  • The slowdown in retail sales last month is the first decline since March. The data is not adjusted for inflation.

Details: Consumers cut back spending in most categories, including at furniture stores (-2%), motor vehicle and auto shops (-1%), and sporting goods stores (-0.8%).

  • Spending ticked higher at health and personal care stores (+1%), food and beverage shops (+0.6%) and electronics stores (+0.6%).

Worth noting: Excluding sales of cars, auto parts and gasoline, retail sales rose slightly by 0.1% in October.

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