Driven by gains at car dealers, U.S. retail sales rose 1.1 percent in September from August, the Census Bureau just reported.
It's the strongest one-month gain since February's 1.3 percent increase.
And sales were up 7.9 percent from September 2010, Census adds.
Consumers purchase about 70 percent of the goods and services the economy produces, so their demand is key to growth. Bloomberg News says that the better-than-expected increase in September should ease concerns that "slumping confidence and scant hiring will derail the biggest part of the economy."
Reuters writes that "consumers shook off some of their concerns about stock market drops and political gridlock, potentially giving new momentum to the weak economic recovery."