It appears that consumers aren’t nearly as upbeat about the economy as the strong August sales results may have indicated. The University of Michigan’s preliminary reading of the Consumer Sentiment Index for September dipped to 88.2, down from the final reading for August of 89.3. Economists were reportedly expecting the September reading to be slightly above 90.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department released its report on August retail sales that showed the GAFS category, which includes most consumer products retailers, increased 0.6% seasonally adjusted from July, and rose 5.1% from the same period last year. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores grew 1.5% adjusted month-over-month and 0.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

General merchandise stores saw sales increase 1.1% adjusted month-over-month and 6.5% unadjusted year-over-year.

>>> No numbers available for just Sporting Goods stores, but we suspect that much of the weakness in their category was due to the steep downturn at book and music stores that are impacted by a growing Internet download threat…