Overall retail sales grew 4.1% in October

October was a strong month for retail sales as the industry posted an increase of 4.1%, on a year-over-year basis, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Chain Store Sales Index. This was the strongest monthly increase since May when sales increased by 5.7%.

In October, sales rebounded in a number of categories. The best sales performer was apparel chain stores, which posted an increase of 6.9%. Wholesale clubs followed with an increase of 6.6%. In other categories, drug stores posted a 5.8% increase in October, followed by discounters at 2.8% for the month, which was the strongest monthly gain since March 2004. Footwear stores posted an increase of 4.6%, their largest increase since March 2004. Furniture stores, however, continued to sees their sales decrease as sales declined by 4.3% for the month.

“Though we saw some sales softness throughout the month, retail sales performed surprisingly well and exceeded our expectations” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. “Though October’s results should not be taken as a bellwether of how holiday sales will fare, they are at least a reassuring sign that sales will remain strong as we move closer to the traditional start of the holiday season. As we look forward to the November, ICSC expects sales to increase to about 3% to 4%, on a year-over-year basis.”

ICSC Chain Store Sales Trends is a monthly report on the U.S. retail industry’s sales performance based on an ICSC compilation of publicly available sales for approximately 75 retail chain stores. Comparable-store sales are also compiled for specialized-industry groupings, which include aggregates for apparel chain stores, department stores, discount stores, drug stores, footwear stores, furniture chain stores, and wholesale clubs.