By Jeffry Bartash, MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Americans ratcheted up their spending for the second straight month in September, buying everything from back-to-school supplies to new autos to the latest version of the iPhone.
Retail spending rose a seasonally adjusted 1.1% in September and sales were revised somewhat higher for August and July, the Commerce Department said Monday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch forecast a 0.9% increase.
The higher level of spending suggests third-quarter growth could end up stronger than economists were expecting. The U.S. likely expanded by a 1.6%, according to the most recent MarketWatch forecast.
Auto sales, which can often have an outsize impact on the retail report, rose by 1.3%.
Yet even if autos are excluded, sales rose a robust 1.1%.
The biggest increase took place among stores that sell electronics and appliances. Sales leaped 4.5% — the biggest gain since October 2011 — and likely were boosted by the release of the new iPhone. (NASDAQ:AAPL) It went on sale in late September.
Sales also rose 1.8% among nonstore retailers, like Amazon, (NASDAQ:AMZN) that also sell lots of electronics.
Consumers had to shell out more money for gas again, but spending on fuel accounted for a smaller increase in retail sales than it did in August. Sales climbed 2.5% at gasoline stations last month, but overall retail spending was still 1.0% higher in September even when fuel is omitted.
Meanwhile, the government revised sales figures for August and July to show somewhat higher spending.
Retail sales climbed 1.2% in August — the fastest rate in almost two years — instead of 0.9% as previously reported. And the increase in July sales were revised up to 0.7% from 0.6%.