WASHINGTON — Government statistics released Thursday on Octoberretail sales reflected much of the uptick seen in the figures reported last week by many individual merchants.
According to the Commerce Department tally, general merchandise retailers posted a 0.7 percent sales gain last month against September, while apparel and accessory stores slipped 0.3 percent.
Measured against a year ago, however, both the general merchandisers and the specialists were ahead. The general merchandise category — which includes discount, department and variety stores — posted a 6.2 percent increase and the apparel and accessory stores were up 4.7 percent.
Department stores alone — excluding leased departments — posted a 0.4 percent sales hike against September and were up 6.1 percent over a year ago.
Overall, retail sales in October were up 0.2 percent against September and ahead 5.2 percent against October 1995.
Encouraged by the uptick in overall sales, Ken Goldstein, an economist with the Conference Board in New York, forecast “a good holiday buying season for clothing.”
“It won’t make retailers rich overnight, but I would be very surprised if we heard the same moaning and grinding of teeth this year that we heard last year,” he said.