The Commerce Department reported(.pdf) that retail sales fell 0.1 percent in September after a gain of 0.2 percent in August as a sharp decline in auto sales more than offset other gains. Excluding autos, sales rose 0.4 percent after a gain of 0.1 percent the month prior.
On a year-over-year basis, overall retail sales rose just 3.2 percent, equaling the level of March that marked the weakest annual rate since August 2010.
Autos sales fell 2.4 percent after surging 5.8 percent the month prior and, along with clothing store sales (-0.5%) and miscellaneous store sales (-1.2%), this was one of only three major categories to indicate declines.
Sales at grocery stores and restaurants/bars rose 0.9 percent to lead the advancing categories as other gains were more modest, not nearly enough to offset the big decline in sales of trucks and automobiles.