Stimulus Fatigue? Retail Sales Wane at Many Brick & Mortar Stores. Department Stores Progress to Zombiehood. But Online Sales Surge to Record

by Wolf Richter
Wolf Street

My 13 whiplash-charts by retailer category.

First signs of exhaustion after a blistering Pandemic-inspired weirdest-economy-ever spike to new records? In October, total retail sales – sales of merchandise in stores and online, but not including services such as doctor’s visits, insurance, airline tickets, hotel bookings, etc. – ticked up by just 0.3% from September, the smallest month-to-month increase since the trough in April, eking out a new record of $553 billion (seasonally adjusted), according to the Census Bureau.

Without the boom in online sales, retail sales at brick-and-mortar stores would have been down from September. Compared to October 2019, total retail sales were up 5.7%. The signs of exhaustion show in the details, as we’ll see in a moment. But there are also signs of power-spending particularly by those with money. Ecommerce sales surged to a new record, while department store sales made progress toward ultimate zombiehood:

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