Retail Sales Send Mixed Signals in October

November 15, 2019

As U.S. manufacturing continues to slow, the economy is increasingly reliant on consumer spending. The good news is that after dropping in September, retail sales were up in October. Retail sales, which include purchases made in stores, restaurants, and online, increased by 0.3 percent last month.

The worrying news is that while consumers are willing to open their wallets for essential items like food and gasoline, sales of big-ticket items slowed. Furniture and home decor sales dropped 0.9 percent, the biggest drop in nearly a year.

If consumer spending begins to slow, then it is unlikely that manufacturing will pick up the slack. The Federal Reserve reports that U.S. industrial production fell by 0.8 percent last month. While some of this can be attributed to the GM strike, this is the third time that production has contracted in the last four months.

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