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CE/Majap Retail Sales Up 3.6% In Sept.

Washington – Last month’s launch of iPhone 5 may have given CE/majap retailers one of their strongest showings in two years, as channel sales rose 3.6 percent to nearly $8.5 billion in September, the U.S. Commerce Department reported.

According to the agency’s monthly retail sales estimates, CE and majap dealers enjoyed an even bigger bump from August, with month-over-month sales climbing 4.5 percent.

By comparison, total retail sales, excluding restaurants, car dealers and gas stations, rose 5.3 percent year over year, while e-tailers and other direct sellers saw sales soar 15 percent in September.

The Commerce Department’s estimates are adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading day differences, but not for price changes.

In a research note, Credit Suisse retail analyst Gary Balter said CE posted one of its strongest showings on both a one- and two-year basis. The gains, he said, “are in line with recent reports from Costco that sales trends in the space are improving, and in our view are likely partially the result of robust smartphone and iPhone sales.”

The National Retail Federation (NRF) said the figures offered a promising outlook for the critical holiday months ahead, particularly for CE. “In spite of the uncertainty and unease surrounding our nation’s high unemployment and long-term fiscal challenges, consumers continue to spend and shop,” said Matthew Shay, president/CEO of the retail trade association. “Robust back-to-school spending combined with a series of new, technology-led product launches, certainly helped retailers in September.”

Added NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz: “With recent data painting a more optimistic view of consumer confidence, we can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel.” He cautioned however that “While the latest retail sales data indicates continued improvement for the economy, increasing gas prices and the looming fiscal cliff still pose serious challenges to the momentum we’ve seen in consumer spending.”

Nevertheless, stocks opened higher today on word of the Commerce Department report.