Retail and food services sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.1% to $425.9 billion in September, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.

After auto sales helped push retail sales up 0.2% in August, analysts were slightly disappointed by September's numbers, having expected steady sales from the previous month. 

Top-line numbers look better when more volatile automobile sales are excluded. Auto sales dropped off 2.2% in September, putting retail sales, less motor vehicles, at 0.4% growth compared to analysts' 0.3% expectations. Gasoline sales remained steady from August to September. The drop in auto sales occurred largely because the sales calendar pulled Labor Day weekend activity into August, automakers have said. That means the drop was likely temporary.

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Source: Census.gov 

Outside of these two sectors, grocery stores led sales with a 1% increase, while miscellaneous store retailers lagged with a 1.2% drop.

Over the last year, retail sales are up 3.2%, with nonstore retailers snagging the largest 8.9% gain.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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