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Consumer spending on goods dropped in October, but rallied for Black Friday

Consumers pulled back on buying stuff prior to the holidays.
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Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

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With all the Black Friday hubbub, you might have gotten the impression that Americans are raring to spend their hard-earned dollars. But the latest federal data shows consumption slowed significantly in October, rising just 0.2% after a 0.7% bump in September.

In addition, that slight uptick came from services rather than goods. There was a $11.9 billion drop in spending on goods, offset by a $53.1 billion increase in services spending, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

If it’s any consolation to retailers worried about what this means for the holidays, a big chunk of the drop in goods consumption was due to decreased spending on motor vehicles, gasoline, and other energy purchases, none of which tend to find their way under the Christmas tree.

However, the new data isn’t the only sign that consumer spending is losing steam. Earlier in November, another measure from the Department of Commerce showed retail sales dropping 0.1% month over month in October—the first decline since March.

Multiple retailers have also issued a “cautious outlook” for the coming quarter, including Walmart, Target, and even discount chains such as Dollar Tree.

But the negative sentiment isn’t stopping the retail industry from taking a victory lap after the Black Friday–Cyber Monday sales events.

The National Retail Federation said a record 200.4 million consumers showed up for the five-day holiday weekend, up from last year’s record of 196.7 million.

“The five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday represents some of the busiest shopping days of the year and reflects the continued resilience of consumers and strength of the economy,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Early data from Adobe Analytics also showed sizable gains in online spending from last year.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.