U.S. Retail Sales Increase 1.3% in October

Americans stepped up their spending at retailers, restaurants, and auto dealers last month, a sign of consumer resilience as the holiday shopping season begins amid painfully high inflation and rising interest rates.

The government said Wednesday that retail sales rose 1.3% in October from September, up from a flat reading in September from August. The increase was led by car sales and higher gas prices. Still, excluding autos and gas, retail spending rose 0.9% last month.

Strong consumer demand could perpetuate inflation, but other trends may work in the other direction. Auto sales jumped 1.3% last month, the retail sales report showed, but that gain, in addition to people replacing cars in Florida, partly reflects a clearing of supply chain problems that have made more auto parts and semiconductor chips available. Auto production has rebounded, leading to greater supply, which can push prices down.

Gas station sales jumped 4.1% last month, though that largely reflected higher prices. Online sales rose 1.2%, and restaurant and bar sales moved up 1.6%.