U.S. retail sales post surprise September gain

U.S. retail sales surprisingly rose in September as consumers seemed to keep spending despite product shortages and higher prices.

Sales were up 0.7 percent, according to data released Friday by the Commerce Department.

The biggest gains were seen for sporting goods and hobbies, and general merchandise.

Sales at gas stations were also strong - but that's due to the spike in gasoline prices.

A key measure of the retail sales report that corresponds most closely to the consumer spending component of the quarterly GDP number was up last month as well, that bodes well for the economy, since consumer spending is responsible for nearly two-thirds of all economic activity.

On the downside: health and personal care spending.

Sales of electronics and appliances were also down last month...pointing to the much-talked about production delays and supply shortages.

There are fears that supply constraints could disrupt the holiday shopping season by making products harder to find...

then, sticker shock when consumers get to front of the check-out line.

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