Consumer spending trends were a bit softer than expected but remained healthy in October. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales were up 5.7% in October (a solid increase) versus 5.9% in September. On a month-over-month basis, retail sales increased 0.3% in October (versus the consensus forecast of 0.5%), driven in part by strong vehicle sales. Excluding vehicles and gas, retail sales increased just 0.2% versus expectations of 0.6%. On a seasonally adjusted basis, October retail sales eased in several categories including clothing, furniture, general merchandise, restaurants, and sporting goods. Meanwhile, non-store (i.e. online) sales remained very strong in October, which was likely driven in part by the shift of Amazon Prime Day into October this year. According to the National Retail Federation, 42% of consumers started their holiday shopping early this year and consumers surveyed planned to spend an average of $997.79, down about 5% from last year. Looking ahead, we believe rising COVID-19 cases, regional lockdowns and other social distancing measures, still high levels of unemployment, and the absence of additional fiscal relief could weigh on consumer confidence and spending levels over the next few months.

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