The U.S. Consumer Keeps Spending 

The U.S. Consumer Keeps Spending 

By: Dylan Sikes - News

Friday, October 15, 2021

Covid-related caution, rising prices and widespread supply-chain disruptions failed to tamper spending as U.S. retail sales rose a better-than-expected 0.7 percent in September, recording the second month of gains. Economists had actually predicted a drop of 0.2 percent for the month.

Compiled once a month by the Commerce Department, retail sales measure everything from food service and retail stores. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of GDP, so retail sales is considered an accurate measure for gauging the economic health of the U.S. 

Hidden behind the number is rising costs—prices advanced 0.4 percent from August, and 5.4 percent from last year according to data.

Where were consumers spending their money? While the auto industry continued to feel the fallout from supply chain disruptions, auto sales rose 0.5 percent for the month. And the energy crisis reared its head as gas prices pushed higher, with spending at fuel stations up 1.8 percent.

Essentials such as food and beverages increased 0.7 percent. A return to school and after-school sports helped sales of sporting goods, music and book stores lead the way, up 3.7 percent. 

Worries about the Delta variant did peak through, as consumers stayed home and shopped online—sales up 0.6 percent, instead of going out—restaurants and bars rose just 0.3 percent.   

Heading into the holidays—and the North American winter—what will be the impact of continued supply chain issues and higher energy prices? 

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