15 October (NWN) — Inflation, supply chain problems and low government payments did not dampen demand from consumers who spent more money than expected in September.
Consumer spending rose 0.7% from the previous month to a total of $625.4 billion for September, according to new US Census Bureau data released Friday. Sales grew 13.9 percent from a year ago.
Excluding auto sales, September saw a growth of 0.8% in sales over the previous month. Compared to a year ago, this increase is 15.6 percent. The September numbers are in contrast to the July report which saw consumer spending decline by 1.1% overall and 0.4% excluding automobile purchases.
Census Bureau numbers are an unexpected bright spot amid the uncertainty facing the US economy.
Stock markets were mostly flat earlier this week in response to the Federal Reserve’s plan to roll back stimulus measures related to the pandemic. September’s monthly consumer price index showed prices rose 5.4% from a year earlier, the biggest increase since 2008. An increase in unemployment benefit payments, another pandemic stimulus measure, also expired in September.
As CNBC reported, forecasters expected consumers to close their wallets amid economic uncertainty and a growing delta version of the coronavirus. The Dow Jones forecast a 0.2% decline for September.
“Students going back to school and workers returning to the office are the catalysts for growth in retail sales,” Natalie Kotliar, national leader of the retail and consumer products practice at financial advisory firm BDO, told CNBC.
Sporting goods, music and bookstores saw the biggest increase in spending at 3.7% in the most recent numbers. General goods increased 2% and miscellaneous retailers by 1.8%. Gas prices also increased by 1.8% over the previous month and witnessed the biggest year-on-year increase of 38.2%.
Spending on electronics dropped 0.9%. Health and personal care stores saw a decrease of 1.4%.