October furniture stores sales increase 4.4%

October furniture stores sales increase 4.4%

Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores rebounded in October with a 4.4% increase over the same month past year and trailed the 4.7% gain for the broad retail sector, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Wednesday.

The broad-based advance in October sales and a stronger hand-off from an upwardly revised September show American consumers will continue to fuel the economy in the fourth quarter. Ex-auto sales had been expected to rise by 0.2%.

With vehicle sales factored out of the total, retail and food service sales were up only 0.1 percent for the month in October.

Vehicle sales were firmer, though the gain was smaller than the previous month when the recovery from two hurricanes boosted purchases.

Excluding the increase in auto sales, retail sales still inched up by 0.1 percent in October following a 1.2 percent surge in September. Department stores enjoyed a 0.8 percent gain compared with a year ago, perhaps because the weakest of them are being weeded out. Unusually, Internet sales were down in October by 0.3 percent, but continued to grow on an annual basis, up 6.8 percent.

The only losing category for year-over-year sales was sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, down 2.5 percent, with some of their business slowly being siphoned off by e-commerce.