A strong labor market that is boosting consumer spending helped retail sales make a comeback in October, sending a positive note to retailers as they head into the holiday shopping season.

Retail sales in October increased 0.4% over September on a seasonally adjusted basis and were up 5.6% year-over-year unadjusted, according to calculations released today by the National Retail Federation. (The NRF numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.)

According to NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, the pickup in October is a sign of ongoing consumer strength consistent with the state of the U.S. economy.

“The figures bolster expectations for the major shopping period of the year, the holidays,” he said. “Thanks to a high level of consumer confidence surrounding the current and future economy, we expect spending to maintain its strong momentum. The pickup in October was also due in part to delayed spending associated with…