Consumer Spending - November 2010

Retail sales increased more than expected in October, reflecting a jump in motor vehicles and parts sales.

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, total retail sales increased 1.2 percent and core retail sales (excluding gas, autos, and building supplies) increased 0.2 percent in October.
  • The increase in total retail sales for October was concentrated in motor vehicles and parts as well as building supplies.

Compared with a year earlier, retail sales declined slightly in October.

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the pace of growth for retail sales slowed from 7.4 percent in September to 7.3 percent in October on a year-over-year basis.
  • Core retail sales (excluding gas, autos, and building supplies) inched down from 4.8 percent in September to 4.6 percent in October.

Sales tax revenues increased strongly on a year-over-year basis.

  • Sales tax revenues for the Southeast were up 4 percent in October compared with a year earlier.

Although most states experienced an improvement over the past few months, sales tax revenue remains soft across the Southeast.

  • All Sixth District states had year-over-year increases in sales tax collections in October. Georgia had the largest year-over-year increase (10.4%) and Louisiana had the second largest (5.6%).
  • Sales tax collections increased 4.4% in Alabama and 3.9% in Tennessee since October 2009, while Florida (+2.4%), and Mississippi (+2.1%) posted more modest gains.

Consumer confidence in the United States and the South remained low in November.

  • According to the University of Michigan's preliminary report, overall consumer confidence increased in November but remains well below prerecessionary levels.
  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for the South Census region dipped below the overall U.S. consumer sentiment index in November.

Tourism activity in the District has shown improvement, and contacts in the industry are optimistic about the outlook.

  • Smith Travel Research included six District cities in its list of the top 25 U.S. tourist markets. Of those six, Atlanta, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, and Orlando had a hotel occupancy rate above the national average of 58.2 at the end of October.
  • Tourism contacts in the District report that, overall, tourism has improved compared with the same period last year, and the outlook remains positive for the remainder of the year and the holiday season. Cruise bookings remain strong although discretionary onboard spending is down. International visitors continue to be a major source of tourism growth in the District while domestic tourists are still looking for deals and discounts. In addition, contacts have reported not only an increase in recent business travel but also that group travel bookings are on the rise.

Gaming tax revenues in Mississippi edged down in October.

District-assembled vehicle sales in October increased 31 percent from a year earlier, far above the nation's pace.

  • District-assembled vehicle sales in October jumped 31 percent from last year, led by rising volumes from Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes, and Nissan.
  • Hyundai-Kia sales jumped 93 percent on a year-over-year basis. More than 50 percent of the company's gains are from sales of the new Kia Sorento crossover vehicle.

The pace of District vehicle registrations in September improved on both a monthly and yearly basis.

  • Year over year, District new vehicle registrations in September registered a 10 percent increase, an improvement from the previous month's increase of 7 percent.
  • Nationally, new vehicle registrations were up 1 percent on a year-over-year basis.