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September Retail Sales Post 5.4-Percent Rise

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Adding to the mix of improving economic news is the retail sales report from the Commerce Department Monday.

Sales in September were better than expected -- up 1.1 percent from the previous month and 5.4 percent above September 2011. This is the third straight month of improving retail sales.

Consumer spending drives about two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

According to economist Diane Swonk, improving home prices are playing a part in Monday’s report, which she says has been “one of the largest positive moves for consumers over last six months.”

The report shows big increases in electronics and appliances; Apple’s iPhone 5 helped boost this sector.

Retail sales outside of autos, gasoline and building materials -- known as core retail sales -- rose 0.9 percent last month.

As with all the positive economic news these days, there are some caveats.  Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, points out that “consumers are likely dipping into savings to pay for the increased spending -- we need more jobs to sustain this spending.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio