October Retail Sales Crash

The Commerce Department released its latest results. And the numbers are a disaster.

U.S. retail and food services sales for October, seasonally adjusted, were $363.7 billion, a decrease of 2.8 percent from the previous month and 4.1 percent below October 2007. Total sales for the August through October 2008 period were down 1.3 percent from the same period a year ago. The August to September 2008 percent change was revised from –1.2 percent to –1.3 percent.

Retail trade sales were down 3.1 percent from September 2008 and were 5.0 percent below last year. Motor vehicle and parts dealers sales were down 23.4 percent from October 2007 and sales of furniture and home furnishings stores sales were down 13.5 percent from last year.

Bloomberg has more.

The 2.8 percent decrease was the fourth consecutive drop and the biggest since records began in 1992, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Purchases excluding automobiles also posted their worst performance.

Spending may continue to falter as mounting job losses, plunging stocks and falling home values leave household finances in tatters. Retailers from Best Buy Co. to Nordstrom Inc. are cutting revenue forecasts ahead of what may be the worst holiday shopping season in six years.

"We are in the eye of the storm,'' said James O'Sullivan, a senior economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, who accurately projected the decline in sales. "The recession is clearly intensifying. The next few months will look pretty bad. The fourth quarter will be even weaker.''

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