WASHINGTON – American consumers ramped up their spending last month in a sign of robust health heading into the winter holiday shopping season.
The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.8 percent in October, after an upwardly-revised 1 percent gain in September. The two-month increase was the largest since the spring of 2014.
Steady hiring and some emerging signs of solid pay increases have made shoppers more confident and willing to spend. The unemployment rate fell last month to a low 4.9 percent and workers saw the biggest annual pay gain in October since the recession ended.
Some of the biggest sales increases were in autos and gas, with higher prices boosting gas station sales. Even excluding those categories, however, sales rose 0.6 percent in October and 0.5 percent the previous month.