WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. retail sales rose by 1.9 percent in September from the previous month, recording the fifth straight month of growth, the country's Commerce Department reported on Friday.
Retail sales in September "handily exceeding expectations as consumers continue to adjust to living with the virus," Tim Quinlan and Shannon Seery, economists at the Wells Fargo Securities, wrote in an analysis.
They noted that the biggest contributions to September's retail sales report were autos, clothing and restaurants, adding that the only category that posted a decline was electronics stores, which saw strong demand in prior months.
"Restaurants and bars were crushed during the shutdowns, but after five straight monthly gains, the category is now off only 15 percent from its peak," Quinlan and Seery said, while noting that the industry faces "tough months ahead" with cooler weather.
The report showed that retail trade sales were up 8.2 percent from September last year. Non-store retailers were up 23.8 percent from last year, while building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 19.1 percent from last year.
Retail sales saw an 8.3 percent drop in March amid widespread COVID-19 shutdowns, followed by a record 14.7 percent plunge in April. As businesses gradually reopened across the nation, retail sales started to rebound in May.
Following months of recovery, total retail sales for the July through September period were up 3.6 percent from the same period a year ago, according to the report.
The retail sales data came one day after the Labor Department reported the number of initial jobless claims in the United States rose to 898,000 last week, which indicated a slowing recovery in the pandemic-ravaged labor market.
In its latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) report released on Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected the U.S. economy to shrink 4.3 percent this year, 3.7 percentage points above the June forecast. Enditem