The retail sales figures are in, and they are strong for September. Of course, they got a bit of a lift from not one, but two hurricanes that made landfall in the continental U.S.
According to the latest statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau, retail expenditures hit their highest level since early 2015 in September, pushed hard by Texans and Floridians preparing for the coming wrath of Mother Nature, and then replacing all the cars and possessions destroyed by the hurricanes.
All in, sales were up 1.6 percent in September and up 4.4 percent on the year. The biggest bump was to car dealers and auto parts specialists. Sales at vehicle and parts dealers jumped 3.6 percent in December and were up 4 percent on the year.
Oil prices were also up, as various refineries were knocked offline, and gas station sales also saw gains. Building material and gardening equipment and supplies outfits, meanwhile, saw sales soar 2.1 percent in September and 10.7 percent on the year, rounding out as September’s strongest performers.
Performance outside the power hitters was less impressive, particularly in regions devastated by hurricanes, where shopping slowed to a crawl. Furniture and home furnishing stores saw a 0.4 percent decline in sales last month, while spending at electronics and appliance outfits was down 1.1 percent.
Traditional department stores continued to look weak last month, as sales dropped to 0.4 percent from where they sat in August.
Retail sales did dip in August and held steadily in July, with little up or down movement. On the whole, however, the U.S. Census Bureau reported statistics that revealed the third quarter ended on a strong note, surpassing the second quarter’s performance.