Retail Sales were reported this morning up a robust 1.1% in September. Normally, analysts would look to volatile motor vehicle or gasoline sales for the driver behind such a robust move. However, when excluding those two factors, retail sales still increased by 0.9%. The true driver of sales in September excluding autos and gasoline appeared to be Apple (AAPL). The company's important product launches in the month certainly caused a surge in sales and probably also spurred Apple driven traffic and relative sales for electronics store retailers like Best Buy (BBY).
Looking more deeply into the government report, we see that Electronics & Appliance Store sales increased by a whopping 4.5% rate in September over August. And the growth was not due to a weak August either, because year-to-year sales in September were also up by 3.6%. The month-to-month rate marked the fastest growth posted by any reporting segment, so it was special. Likewise, after gasoline station sales growth of 2.5%, non-store retailers' sales increased by 1.8%.
Non-store retailers also include sellers of Apple gear and beneficiaries of Apple relative traffic. Of course Apple's Store also operates online, but sellers ranging from Amazon.com (AMZN), eBay (EBAY), Wal-Mart (WMT) and others probably all benefited from Apple's introductions, if not by sales of Apple gear, then by sales of competitively priced products or re-sales of Apple products. Certainly, Apple introductions funnel some shoppers to competitive Samsung (OTC:SSNLF), Amazon.com and other manufacturers' lower priced products. Thus, an Apple introduction is like an economic stimulus issuance. In fact, it's so important that if I was president, I would consider offering Apple some sort of incentive to launch its long anticipated Apple Television.
The Apple factor was important for the month of September in particular because it was the month in which Apple introduced its iPhone 5. New iPhone launches have become national events, and the latest offered no letdown in anticipation or shopper follow through. In its first weekend in September, iPhone 5 sales topped five million. Apple's overall launch schedule was bunched up in September, also supporting the economy with the introductions of the company's new iPod touch and iPod nano. September and October have and could also bring the introductions of Apple's 13" Retina MacBook Pro and 21.5" iMac, the modified new iPad, the 27" iMac and the iPad mini.
We see no other good reason for electronics stores to have posted such a marked increase over August than the Apple factor. So, perhaps what we can learn from all this is that the sluggish American economy, with its handicapped labor force, can still squeeze out consumer spending for products that are innovative and disruptive enough. Let's all thank Apple today for enthusing markets broadly as well. The SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) was up by a half of a point at noon, thanks to the retail sales data.
This also goes to show that Apple can enthuse investors as well as economists. If Americans clamor for Apple products, they should likewise crave its shares. Thus, the pros for an Apple stock split outweigh the cons, in my book. Furthermore, considering the impact its products have, it might not be a reach to say that an AAPL share split might be useful to the government and its fiscal policy, as it might draw capital out of Americans' savings and into the economy through investment. And where is there a better organization to give capital to than the innovator of our age, which has here clearly proven its value added contribution to the economy as well as society again today?