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Clothing Store Sales Picked Up in October But Department Stores Continued to Suffer

Per the U.S. Census Bureau’s advance monthly report, released Tuesday, clothing and accessory store sales reached $21.55 million last month. That was a 0.6% improvement from September’s $21.43 million and up 2.3% from the same time a year ago.

In fact, nearly all categories had an upbeat October, which helped retail trade sales to rise 1 percent from the previous month and 4.3% year-over-year, while non-store retailers (including e-commerce) were up 1.5% from September and a whopping 12.9% from October 2015.

The report indicated that total retail and food service sales were $465.9 billion last month, an increase of 0.8% from the previous month and 4.3% better than the year-ago period’s performance. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had anticipated overall sales to increase 0.6% and retail trade sales to improve 0.4%.

Though general merchandise sales—which include department stores—recovered from September’s 0.4% decline to rise 0.4% in October, they were down 2.3% on a yearly basis. Department store sales alone dropped 0.7% monthly and were down 7.3% compared with last year. However, sales at sporting goods increased 1.3% from September and gained 1.7% year-over-year.