The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


October Brought A Lot, But Not a Growing Economy

In the month of October, our nation saw a superstorm wreck the Northeast and two candidates give a final push in campaigning for the presidential election. In the world of retail, the month of October did not bring about growth in consumer spending.

Total retail and food services sales decreased 0.3 percent in October from the previous month, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. Excluding motor vehicle and parts sales, a very volatile industry month to month, the preliminary estimate shows there was no net change in the level of sales from the previous month.

“It’s, you know, kind of business as usual,” said Heather Sanderson, CVS store manager at Park Cities Plaza. “We’ve done just fine so I don’t think that there’s been anything major [that has happened to sales].”

The report on the nation’s monthly sales for retail and food services is important because consumer spending makes up about two thirds of the U.S. economy. A slowdown in growth, or lack thereof, could indicate that economic recovery may be a bit farther in the future than hoped.

But if the crowds of cars waiting for parking spots to open up at Park Cities Plaza are any indication of the health of the economy, all seems to be well in the eyes of consumers.

“I couldn’t even find a spot,” said Al Contreras, a CVS customer who was born and raised in Dallas. “I’m retired, on fixed income, and I’m doing copies of photos for luxury… if I were really really tight I wouldn’t be doing this. This is like a fun hobby.”

Even overall retail sales growth came to a halt from the previous month, sales were reported as up 3.8 percent from one year ago. That’s 3.6 percent over the same time period when motor vehicle and part sales are excluded.

“I think things are definitely looking up from last year,” said Contreras.

In October, the kinds of businesses that showed the greatest decrease in sales from the previous month included building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-1.9 percent), electronics and appliance stores (-1.0 percent), and non store retailers (-1.8 percent).

The categories of businesses that showed the most growth were gasoline stations (1.4 percent), food and beverage and grocery stores (0.8 percent), and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (0.5 percent).

The report also revised the August to September growth in sales from 1.1 percent to 1.3 percent.

“Our busy time is August and September, when the kids are in,” said Sanderson.

Sanderson also said that sales at that particular CVS location are expected to slow over the next two months, but that’s only a seasonal effect. Many stores see a boost in sales during the holidays, but this one doesn’t because the college population (the majority of its customer base) goes home.

Right now it’s hard to tell what specifically caused the lack of retail growth last month, even with an impending presidential election and the mayhem caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“Even though we cannot isolate the effect, we did receive indications from the companies that the hurricane had both positive and negative effects on the retail sales data,” said the Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services Report in regards to the superstorm.

“Some firms reported a drop in sales due to permanent or temporary store closures and stores having reduced business due to damage, fewer customers, and/ or lack of employees.”

Other firms reported an increase in sales due to sales of supplies for the affected areas and evacuees purchasing retail and food service in different areas than they normally would have.

The report says that the Census Bureau cannot produce estimates that show the effect on sales for the stricken areas because the data gathered “is designed to estimate sales for the national level.”

The Census Bureau’s Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services for November, which will include revised numbers for October, is scheduled for release on December 13.


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