Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Instant Reaction: Retail Trade Sales, October 22, 2020

Seasonally adjusted advanced estimates of United States retail and food services sales continued its upward trend for the month of September as sales continue to exceed pre-pandemic levels. Retail trade sales are estimated at $549.3 billion which is a 1.9% increase from August figures and up 5.4% year-over-year.

The largest year-over-year percent increases were seen in non-store retailers, up 23.8%, and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, who were up 19.1% from the prior year. On a month-over-month basis, clothing and clothing accessories stores represent the largest percent increase at 11% followed by department stores, up 9.7%, and sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, and book stores, up 5.7%.

While food services and drinking-place sales had the largest year-over-year percent decrease of retail trade, down 14.4%, it is continuing to chip away at losses originating from COVID-19 as September sales increased 2.1% month-over-month. Despite these increases, food service and drinking place sales may not fully recover until after a vaccine becomes available.