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Americans Ramped up Retail Spending a Strong 1.7% Last Month

November 16, 2021by Christopher Rugaber, Associated Press
In this Dec. 10, 2020 photo, a woman carries shopping bags in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans sharply boosted their spending last month, pushing up retail sales and giving the economy a lift. Much of the gain reflected the fact that shoppers are also paying higher prices.

Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 1.7% in October from September, the U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday. That’s up from 0.8% in the previous month.

Solid hiring, strong pay raises, and healthy savings for many households are underpinning robust spending. Americans are also still buying more cars, furniture, and other goods than they did before the pandemic, which is overwhelming U.S. ports and shipping firms and pushing up prices.

Tuesday’s retail sales figures aren’t adjusted for inflation, which rose 0.9% in October, the government said last Wednesday.

Businesses and other employers are rapidly increasing pay to fill a near-record number of open jobs. Wages and salaries jumped in the July-September quarter, compared with a year earlier, by the most in 20 years. That’s giving more Americans extra money to spend.

Yet inflation has eroded those gains for most Americans. Prices jumped 6.2% in October from a year earlier, the government said, Wednesday the most in 31 years.

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