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article imageU.S. retail sales fall short in October

By Jacki Viles     Nov 4, 2011 in Business
Retailers understand that October is traditionally a lackluster month in most sectors. This October was no different. High unemployment and the ever-present uneasiness of the American consumer have done October no favors.
An unusually early snow storm in the Northeast kept many people home and some retailers closed due to power failures at the end of the month. All told, the retail sector gained only 3.4% in October against optimistic estimates of 4.5%.
Margin dollars were sacrificed by deep discounting just to get consumers to come into the stores to pump up revenue. With the holiday season just around the corner, this is a typical trend in October sales.
The month-by-month loss in the apparel sector between September and October is also typical as back to school clothes shopping make for a very strong September. The unseasonably warm temperatures in the beginning of October kept shoppers from buying the typical purchases of warm weather clothing. The uncontrollable weather will likely shift the losses of October into the gains of November.
SpendingPulse reports that although total gains were smaller than expected certain sectors outperformed over last year. There was welcoming news for electronics industry as a whole as DVD new releases and the electronic games sector had a better than average new release titles to offer, helping to bolster new hardware sales. This combination helped to bring in the first positive numbers in this sector since March. Grocery sales also showed a substantial up tick. Although it is most likely due to the cost of goods increase over last year.
Many retailers are already decorating and stocking their shelves for the upcoming holiday season. Many more stores will be opening at midnight on Black Friday to accommodate the strategic shoppers looking for door buster bargains.
The National Retail Federation estimates a conservative 2.8% increase in holiday sales this year. This equates to a projected $465 billion holiday season. Retailers report an additional 500,000 new positions available across all areas for the upcoming season.
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