The US Census Bureau announced that U.S. retail sales for the month
of September decreased 1.5% from August, to $344.7 billion, and fell
5.7% year-over-year. Excluding autos,
sales rose 0.5% in September. Economists, on average, were projecting a
2.3% decline in overall sales and a 0.3% rise in ex-auto sales.

Total sales for the July through September period
were off 6.6% from the year-ago period. Meanwhile, the July to August
change was revised lower, from 2.7% to 2.2%. However,

Furniture retailers rose 1.4%, while building material and garden supplies dealers dipped 0.2%. Food and beverage stores increased 0.7%. Electronic and appliance store sales were flat. Clothing store sales increased 0.5% last month. General merchandise stores gained 0.9%. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores inched 0.1% higher Health and personal care stores increased 0.8%. Restaurants and bars
were up 0.2%. Mail order and Internet retailers fell, down 0.1%.

August sales were so strong because of cash for clunkers, a federal
government program that let motorists swap their gas guzzlers for more
fuel-efficient cars. The data Wednesday showed auto and parts sales in
September fell by 10.4%, the largest tumble since 10.6% in August 2005.
August autos had jumped 7.8%; ex-auto sales in August rose 1.0%.