The October Retail Sales report missed expectations this morning on both a headline and core basis.  In addition to the weaker than expected reading for October, September’s report was also revised lower.

Breadth in this month’s report was also negative for the first time since April. Of the thirteen sectors tracked in the report, just five showed growth while eight declined. On the positive side, Non-Store retail was the main bright spot with m/m growth of 3.11%. That’s the last thing every traditional retailer wants to hear and could be indicative of another wave of retrenchment on the part of consumers as the weather gets colder and case counts rise. Electronics and Appliances also reported strong sales growth likely aided by the launch of the iPhone 12. On the downside, Clothing and Sporting Goods both saw m/m declines of over 4%, while sales at General Merchandise retailers dropped 1.1%.

While the monthly pace of retail sales is back at all-time highs, the characteristics behind the total level of sales have changed markedly in the post COVID world.  In our just-released B.I.G. Tips report, we looked at these changing dynamics to highlight the groups that have been the biggest winners and losers from the shifts.  For anyone with more than a passing interest in how the COVID outbreak is impacting the economy, our monthly update on retail sales is a must-read.  To see the report, sign up for a monthly Bespoke Premium membership now!

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