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Today the U.S. Census Bureau released preliminary estimates of nationwide retail sales in October 2021 and revised estimates for September 2021. (The data include both brick-and-mortar and Internet sales.)

Retail Sales Remain Elevated. Seasonally adjusted U.S. retail sales grew 1.7 percent from September to October. Retail sales remain elevated due to dramatic growth in January and March. Cumulative twelve-month growth in sales from October 2020 to October 2021 was 16 percent.

Inflation Playing Major Role in Sales Growth. Spending grew substantially faster in October than in September, largely due to concurrently accelerating inflation. Across all goods and services purchased by consumers, seasonally adjusted U.S. prices grew 0.9 percent from September to October. Prices for tangible goods—especially gasoline—grew faster than the 0.9 percent headline inflation number. Inflation appears to account for most, but not all, of the October growth in retail sales.


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