Oct. 15 - Retail sales were stronger across the board in September- as Americans bought more cars, gasoline, and iPhones, treating themselves to holiday gifts before the first chill sets in. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Holiday cheer from consumers even before the first chill. Americans, feeling good enough about the economy to treat themselves to things they want like iPhones and new cars- in addition to things they need.. like gas so they can get to work. Retail sales were better than expected in September. Decision Economics Cary Leahey: SOUNDBITE: CARY LEAHEY, CHIEF U.S. ECONOMIST, DECISION ECONOMICS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The rollout of the various products which has been highlighted by the iPhone is the beginning of the Christmas season. In other words, I've even seen people say out loud Christmas came early. I bought myself an iPhone. So I think Christmas has come early and it's off to a very good start." Leahey says people just don't buy fancy phones if they have serious worries about their finances. And he thinks GDP will be better than his earlier estimates-now looking to be around 2 percent. REPORTER BRIDGE: BOBBI REBELL, REUTERS REPORTER (ENGLISH) SAYING: So what's everyone buying? Well, just about everything. Electronics which of course included new iPhone 5s showed a big increase. Gas prices were higher but people had to get to work so they spent more money at the pump. A lot of Americans also finally bought new cars. And they also spent more money on food and drinks. The strong showing goes beyond consumer confidence about the economy. Retailers have upped their game. Clementine Illanes, retail strategist at consulting firm Kurt Salmon: SOUNDBITE: CLEMENTINE ILLANES, RETAIL STRATEGIST, KURT SALMON (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They are getting better at really understanding their customers. So really mining data; looking at analytics to be able to target their customers much more uniquely depending on what that specific customer is actually looking for." And consumers are demanding- and getting more. SOUNDBITE: CLEMENTINE ILLANES, RETAIL STRATEGIST, KURT SALMON (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The customer sees what, you know, an Amazon does online or what an Apple does in store, and they expect all retailers to deliver those kinds of things based on, you know the different channels. So it's things like that. It's things like Wal-Mart making announcements that they are going to offer free shipping on general merchandise." Consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy. So while the recovery remains fragile, the encouraging data is an early gift to those who hope to celebrate even better times later this year. Bobbi Rebell, Reuters.