Consistent with the recent trend of many states reporting increasing sales tax revenue for the month of September, the Commerce Department reported today
that retail sales increased to $367.7 billion in September, the third straight monthly increases, and the highest level of consumer spending in more than two years - since August of 2008 (see top chart above). Except for declines in May and June, retail sales have increased in every month over the last year.
On an annual basis, September retail sales were 7.2% above the same month last year, and that marked the 11th consecutive year-to-year percentage increase in retail sales starting last November, following 14 straight monthly decreases in year-t0-year sales (see bottom chart). This stronger-than-expected retail sales report provides more evidence of an economy that is gradually recovering, and should ease fears of a double-dip recession.