Though at first glance retail sales may appear sluggish due to a slow automotive market, traditional retailers saw better-than-expected sales in September. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), September retail sales in the GAFS category, which includes most general merchandise categories, increased 0.2% seasonally adjusted from August, and jumped 6.9% from the same period last year.

Sales in Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book & Music stores were off 1.9% from August — seasonally-adjusted — and essentially flat to last year's September's figures. Again the drag appears to be coming out of the weakness in Books and Music stores as more of that business moves to the Internet.

September retail sales released this week by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) dropped 0.2% seasonally adjusted for the month due to sluggish sales of automotives. Retail sales rose 9.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

Cool fall weather, attractive fashions, and pent-up demand in September made for a strong September for the nation’s apparel retailers. Clothing and clothing accessories stores showed strong growth in September, rising a solid 10% unadjusted for the year and 1.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month.

Third quarter sales were better than projected, with GAFS sales from July-September increasing 6.3% over last year, higher than NRF’s projection of 5.8% growth.