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Retail sales remain anemic in October

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WASHINGTON – Retail sales increased 0.1% in October after being unchanged in September and August, the Commerce Department said.

So-called core retail sales rose 0.2% last month after increasing 0.1% in September, the government noted. Core sales exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food, and therefore correspond more closely to the consumer spending component of the economy.

Walmart and Target Corp. reported fiscal third quarter financial results this month that highlighted sales increases. Walmart reported a 1.5% increase in same-store sales, its fifth straight quarter of growth. Target said its same-store sales rose 1.9% in the three months to November 1.

U.S. consumer prices rose 0.2% in October, a sign that the drag on inflation from a strong dollar and lower oil prices was starting to ease. The modest rise in inflation could increase chances that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in December.

Costco Wholesale Corp. reported that total sales for the four weeks ended November 1 rose 1% to $8.8 billion. Excluding gasoline price deflation and currency fluctuations, Costco’s October same-store sales rose 4% in the United States and 5% for the whole company.

Rite Aid Corp. said pharmacy same-store sales increased 1.7% in October. Overall sales rose 1.4% from a year earlier. Prescription count at comparable stores increased 0.2%.
Fred’s Inc. also posted a sales increase in October, as pharmacy growth and Halloween sales lifted the business.

The discount retailer said total sales for the month rose 13% to $164.4 million. Sales at stores open at least a year increased 2.3% compared to a decline of 1.4% in the same period a year earlier.

Fred’s last month hired retail pharmacy veteran John Foley as executive vice president of store operations to help it develop a pharmacy operation that can be a consistent growth driver.


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