Gloom Over Holiday Sales Looks Inflated

If Americans are feeling glum, they sure are engaging in some retail therapy.

The Commerce Department on Tuesday reported that sales at stores, restaurants and online rose 1.7% in October from a month earlier, better than the 1.5% economists expected. Additionally, estimates of August and September retail sales were revised upwards. Sales were broadly higher across most categories, with gains at department stores, electronics and appliance stores and online retailers in particular suggesting many people are heeding calls to start their holiday shopping early lest they come up empty.