MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse said most retail sectors posted positive year-over-year growth in October. From a sector-by-sector point of view, categories continued to stabilize, building strength onto the more tepid growth seen in previous months. Nevertheless, there were a few exceptions, wherein a few sectors demonstrated weakness compared to the same month in 2009.

A macro-economic indicator, SpendingPulse reports on national retail and services sales and is based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check. 

“Overall, October showed a noticeable improvement compared to the same month last year,” said Michael McNamara, VP, research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. “ECommerce continued to post solid year-over-year growth, similar to the strong performance in September, while positive financial market performance seemed to help higher-end sectors such as Luxury and some sub-sectors of Jewelry. Further, building on September’s gains, Family and Children’s Apparel performed well in the immediate post back-to-school clearance season, which was also impacted by the cold weather settling into some parts of the country by early October. Growth in travel, spurred by early fall weekend vacations and online holiday ticket sales, helped lift certain sectors.”

Year-over-year overall apparel sales were up a sharp 8.2%, building on the 3.8% gain in September. October saw the year’s largest year-over-year increase for the sector, which has enjoyed 7 out of 10 months of year-over-year gains so far in 2010. Within the sector, women’s apparel enjoyed a 5.3% year-over-year gain, while the Children’s and Family segments saw solid gains, as they did in September, posting increases respectively of 8.7% and 11.6%. Footwear was up a very respectable 5.9%, with Men’s Apparel the only category to lose ground, down 0.3%, nonetheless milder than September’s 3.4% year-over-year decline.

Following four straight months of year-over-year gains, the Consumer Electronics and Appliances segment declined by 3.1% in October. The decline can be accounted for by the significant fall in total ticket prices for this category. The Consumer Electronics sub-category was down by 1.9% while the Appliance sub-sector fell sharply, by 8.2% year over year.

The SpendingPulse Luxury ex-Jewelry Index – which reports on sales at high-end restaurant, food stores, department stores and general apparel categories – posted positive results in October, growing 4.2% year-over-year. This performance is further underscored by the fact that September marked the end of the easy year-over-year comparison environment that persisted through the first eight months of 2010.

In the eCommerce sector, sales posted a year-over-year growth rate on par with those of August and September. With an increase of 7.9%, the overall sector is up slightly higher than September’s year-over-year gain of 7.8%, and August’s 7.2% increase. The biggest gainers were the Apparel sub-category, which was up 16.7% particularly the Family category, up 25.8%; and Footwear, up 17.8%. Notably, Electronics eCommerce sales increased only 0.2%, and Department Stores in the online channel saw growth of only 1.4%, taking a break from the bigger gains seen from December 2009 through June 2010.