The largest increase in over two years for U.S. retail sales was reported in September. The significant change is most likely due to reconstruction and clean-up efforts in the areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. On Friday, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales increased 1.6 percent in September. Last month’s rise in sales was the greatest since March 2015.

Both hurricanes destroyed parts of the states of Texas and Florida during late August and early September. Retail sales at gardening and building material stores increased 2.1 percent last month compared to the 0.6 percent rise in August. Sales at auto dealerships climbed 3.6 percent most likely due to many were required to replace damaged vehicles.

Higher gas prices also contributed to the surge after Harvey interrupted production at oil refineries in the Gulf Coast. Retail sales gained a 5.8 percent rise from gas stations. The increase was the largest since February 2013.

If you exclude the above retail sales in general increased 0.4 percent last month after not moving during August. These core retail sales match closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. The rally in core retail sales proposes the strain on the economy from both hurricanes will probably be humble.

Economists have estimated the hurricanes have the ability to reduce a minimum six-tenths of a percentage point from third quarter GDP growth. The economy grew at a 3.1 percent annualized rate from April to June.

In September, electronics and appliance stores sales dropped 1.1 percent and clothing stores grew by 0.4 percent. Department stores are being crushed by reduced shopping mall traffic and increased competition from online retailers like Amazon. Sales at online retailers rose 0.5 percent. Restaurants and bar sales rose 0.8 percent and sporting goods and hobby stores dropped 0.2 percent.


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