Americans are still spending, despite the elevated cost of borrowing and high prices, as U.S. retail and food services sales were above what analysts expected in September, hitting nearly $705 billion, U.S. Census Bureau data showed on Tuesday.
The rise of retail sales, by 0.7 percent last month from August, beat the 0.3 percent rise that economists had expected, according to a Reuters poll.
Food services and drinking places saw sales go up 9.2 percent from September 2022, the Census Bureau said.
Analysts suggested that slowing consumption at the end of the third quarter may have indicated a similar decline in retail sales, according to Oxford Economics.
The jump in retail sales ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting at the end of October complicates their decision further on whether to hike rates in their battle against high inflation. Policymakers have been raising rates since March 2022 to slow the economy with the expectation that the rise in borrowing costs would discourage more spending and eventually reduce price rises.
But American consumers, at least on the evidence of the September retail sales data, seem to still be OK with spending, a trend that surprised economists.
“We are seeing consumers spent more than we initially thought over the course of the summer,” Gregory Daco, EY’s chief economist, told Bloomberg.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.