Washington — Never underestimate the power of an iPhone launch.
Last month’s rollout of Apple’s 6 series sent retail sales soaring for mobile merchants, and helped lift the entire CE and appliance channel 5.8 percent year over year to $9.2 billion in September sell-through, the U.S. Commerce Department reported.
For once, CE dealers outperformed the greater marketplace, with total retail sales rising 4 percent, and furniture and home-furnishings stores flat. CE even edged out e-tailers and other direct sellers, which enjoyed a 5.4 percent gain last month.
While the news was good for Apple resellers, the weak overall numbers cast a pall over holiday prospects. “Retail sales were surprisingly weak in September,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group. “Reconciling consumer confidence with consumer spending continues to be a challenge.”
Despite lower gas prices and unemployment, Kleinhenz believes shoppers were distracted last month by the rocky stock market and the ISIS and Ebola crises. Nevertheless, NRF’s fourth-quarter outlook “remains positive,” he said.