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Consumer confidence; home improvement sales stalled.

While national retail sales across all categories jumped more than originally expected in September, most of that growth was in auto and auto parts. Dropping temperatures and a rising unemployment rate continue to be contributors to slow home improvement sales; while the anticipation of the holiday season and the back-to-school demands put remodels, building and repairs on hold. Moreover reports indicate higher sales in discount and luxury retail outlets, the "middle" price-point retailers continue to struggle--leaving all retailers analyzing their inventories. Unfortunately the housing market didn't provide a silver lining for September either with existing home sales down.

Retail Market Recap

* Overall retail sales increased by more than expected in the month of September while August's overall retail sales were adjusted 0.3 percent higher; however, much of September's increase was due to a 3.6-percent jump in autos and parts sales.

* Sales in major retailing categories may appear on the upswing, but a closer look puts 2011's sales only back to 2005 levels--not a particularly record-breaking retail year.

* Consumer sentiment remains at recessionary levels.

* Import prices continue to exhibit lingering inflation pressures.

Housing Market Recap

* Existing-home sales were down in September after a strong August gain, but remain above 2010.

* New residential construction surged in September, but much of that percentage comes from the volatile apartment sector.

* Affordability conditions have improved to historically high levels and more creditworthy borrowers are trying to purchase homes, but contract failures are double the level of September 2010.






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Title Annotation:Trends: Monitoring Industry Performance
Comment:Consumer confidence; home improvement sales stalled.(Trends: Monitoring Industry Performance)
Publication:Hardware Retailing
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2011
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