Springboard Retail identifies mixed signals for specialty retailers in October's U.S. Retail Sales Data and aggregated Springboard Retail customer results.
The headlines last week focused on a rebound in consumer spending as seasonally adjusted retail and food services sales increased by 0.3% in October compared to September. The increase in total retail sales was driven primarily by increases in the gasoline and food & beverage categories, which increased 1.0% and 0.5%, respectively. While the headline numbers are being interpreted as a sign of continued consumer strength, a deeper look at the category data and aggregated Springboard Retail customer results reveals a mix of positives and negatives for the specialty retailer industry.
Overall Specialty Retail1 sales decreased 0.5% from September, but increased 0.9% when compared with October 2018. This represents the second monthly sales decline in the category in the past three months and is the largest decline in monthly sales since December 2018. While Specialty Retail sales have been flat or slowly growing each month for most of 2019, declines are worth monitoring as consumers may be pulling back slightly ahead of the holiday shopping season, which is vital to the retail industry and the overall economy.
On a more positive note, Springboard Retail's customer base saw sales increase by 3.8% from September to October, significantly outperforming both the national retail and food services industry and the Specialty Retail category.
Our customer base is comprised of emerging brands and retailers who are leveraging innovative approaches and cutting edge technologies to drive growth. These results reflect the bifurcation of the specialty retail market as the sales growth of more innovative brands and retailers, like Springboard Retail's customer base, continue to accelerate from month to month, even in the face of potential economic headwinds.
1We define the Specialty Retail category as comprised of total sales in the following categories as defined by the US Census Bureau: Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores, Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores, Health and Personal Care Stores, Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instrument, and Book Stores, and Miscellaneous Store Retailers.
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