Retail sales growth slows in October amid pandemic increase

Retail sales growth slows in October amid pandemic increase
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Retail sales continued to increase in October, following the upwards trend experienced in the last six months, but less significantly amid the coronavirus pandemic and contentious presidential election.

Sales grew by 0.3 percent last month — well below September’s increase of 1.6 percent. October missed predictions set forth by economists of a 0.5 percent gain, according to the Census Bureau.

Despite the dip, retail sales still remained up 5.7 percent from October 2019. Overall, total sales from the period between August 2020 through October 2020 were 5.1 percent above what they were at the same time in 2019.

The sales estimates are based on the bureau’s Advance Monthly Retail Trade and Food Services Survey, completed each month by a probability sample of approximately 5,500 retail and food services firms.

Among the retail categories that experienced growth were non-brick and mortar stores, which include online retailers — a sign of the pandemic’s influence — food and beverage stores and building material/garden supply retailers.

Sales are expected to continue to rise for online retailers as the holiday season revs up and merchants are making early pushes this year to take advantage of their growing numbers.

Retailers that experienced significant declines were clothing stores and food service/drinking establishments — another result likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.