Cars brake retail sales

WASHINGTON -- Hobbled by a deep 1.9 percent drop in car sales, overall retail sales fell further than expected during August, slipping 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department reported.

Excluding highly volatile auto sales, retail sales edged up a skimpy 0.2 percent from July levels, hampered by a triple whammy of sever weather across parts of the country, shifting school schedules and a late Labor Day weekend, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported.

Underlying the weakness in traditional retail channels during August, the retail trade group said sales of general merchandise retails dipped 0.4 percent from the month before, but were still up 2 percent from August, 2003. "August represented another notch in a schizophrenic summer for retail sales," said Rosalind Wells, NRF chief economist. "Retailers are hoping that fall and winter sales are more consistent and predictable."

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