U.S. retail sales retreated in September as purchases of autos, gasoline, furniture and clothing slowed, a sign that recent job gains have yet to significantly boost consumer spending.
According to the Associated Press, the Commerce Department said Wednesday (Oct. 15) that seasonally adjusted retail sales dropped 0.3% from the previous month. Sales have risen 4.3% in the past 12 months, slightly below their historical pace.
Auto sales fell 0.8% in September, after revving up 10.4% in August.
Dealers sold cars and trucks at an annual pace of 16.43 million vehicles last month, down from a rate of 17.5 million in August, according to automakers. While auto sales have helped drive economic growth for much of the year, the recent slip was enough to dent overall retail sales in September.
Falling gasoline prices also contributed to a decline in retail sales, as purchases at service stations were off 0.8% in September. Drivers are spending much less at the pump, as average U.S. prices have dropped to $3.19 a gallon from $3.40 a month ago, according to the AAA. That should eventually free up income for consumers to spend elsewhere.
Purchases of clothing dropped 1.2% last month and spending on building materials fell 1.1%.
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