WASHINGTON — Despite a partial shutdown of the federal government and uncertainty over Washington wrangling, retail sales improved slightly during October, a government report said Wednesday.
Retail sales improved by four-tenths of a percentage point during the month, the Commerce Department said. Excluding automobile sales, the improvement was a more modest two-tenths of a percentage point.
Core retail sales, which exclude automobile dealerships, gas stations and materials supplies, improved by half a percentage point on top of a three-tenths of a percentage point gain in September.
Home furnishings and electronics sales drove the growth during the month, while spending on clothing and food and beverages fell during the month.
Economists had expected weaker growth because of the 16-day partial shutdown and the threat of a potential debt default. The numbers suggest a stronger underlying growth in an economy that is chugging along but not at its full potential.