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October retail sales post best showing since March

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Retail sales, helped by strong demand for autos, increased in October by the largest amount in seven months.

The Commerce Department reported Monday that retail sales rose 1.2 percent last month. That was nearly double the gain that had been expected and the largest increase since March. Much of the strength came from a big rise in auto sales. Excluding autos, retail sales rose a more modest 0.4 percent.

October represented the fourth straight increase in retail sales after sales had fallen in May and June. Those declines had raised worries about the economic recovery.

While fears of a double-dip recession have eased, economists do not believe consumers will be able to spend at a fast enough pace to lift growth above the lackluster rates seen over the past six months.

The overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at tepid rates of 2 percent in the July-September quarter and 1.7 percent in the spring. Those rates are less than half the pace normally registered after a recession.

The problem is that consumers are still struggling with a host of problems including painfully high unemployment, which remains stuck at 9.6 percent even though the recession ended more than a year ago.

For October, sales at auto dealerships increased 5 percent. That gain had been expected given reports from automakers that total October sales rose to an annual rate of 12.3 million units, the best monthly showing since the government's Cash for Clunkers program had sent sales surging in August 2009.

Excluding autos, sales advanced at a more moderate 0.4 percent in October following a 0.5-percent rise in sales excluding autos in September.

Outside of autos, sales at general merchandise stores, a category that department stores as well as big retail chains such as Wal-Mart, rose 0.2 percent in September after a slight 0.1-percent rise in September. Sales at specialty clothing stores did better, rising 0.7 percent after having fallen 0.4 percent in September.

The nation's big retailers had reported lackluster sales in October, with analysts blaming some of the weakness on an unusually warm October which lured shoppers to other activities and away from the malls.

The International Council of Shopping Centers said its index of sales turned in its poorest showing in October since last April.

Sales at hardware stores were up a solid 1.9 percent in October while sales at gasoline stations rose 0.8 percent, an increase that partly reflected higher prices at the pump.

Sales at furniture stores and electronics stores both posted 0.7-percent drops.

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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