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US October retail sales rise, consumer confidence jumps ahead of Holiday season

US consumers are stepping up their retail spend as cheaper fuel and an improving jobs market boosts confidence ahead of the Holiday shopping season. US retail sales rebounded in October, the Commerce Department said Friday, while consumer sentiment rose to 89.4 this month, its highest level since July 2007, according to a Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan survey, also released Friday. Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% month-on-month in October to $444.5bn, reversing the 0.3% decline in September. Analysts had forecast a 0.2% gain for October.

Excluding a 1.5% decline in sales at petrol stations, retail spending rose 0.5% after dipping 0.2% in September.

Year-on-year, retail sales rose 4.1% last month and jumped 5.1% excluding fuel. Sales in the August-October period were also 4.5% above the same three months a year ago.

Most retailers posted improved sales last month, led by online retailers, sporting-goods stores, pharmacies and clothing stores.

Sales increased 0.5% at apparel stores although their sales in August-October quarter were flat compared with the prior three months. However, sales fell 0.3% at department stores in October and were down 3.5% from a year earlier.

Non-store retailer sales, which include online shopping, rose 1.9% last month, while furniture store sales rose 0.2% last month as did grocery store sales.

Sales at electronics and appliance stores fell 1.6% in October after jumping 4.7% in September, likely due to the release of Apple’s new iPhone. Motor vehicle and auto parts sales rose 0.5% on-month in October, partially reversing a 1.2% slide in September.

Lower petrol prices helped put consumers in the spending mood, said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation.

“A boost from plunging gas prices and accelerating job growth, combined with wage and salary gains and rising stock prices are making consumers a bit more willing to spend,” he said.

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