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Weather Can't Stop Consumers

Washington — Undeterred by gas prices or the impact of hurricanes, American consumers flocked to the malls during September, pushing retail sales strongly higher.

Hampered by car sales, which dropped 2.8 percent, overall retail sales moved ahead 0.2 percent, to $351.5 billion, the Commerce Department reported. But pull out the highly volatile number for car sales, which can fluctuate, and retail sales improved 1.1 percent.

Driving much of the September improvement was a 4 percent spike at gas stations, reflecting higher prices at the pump.

A strong performer was furniture and home furnishings stores, where sales climbed for the third month, jumping 1.2 percent, following a similar gain of 1.2 percent in August.

Other home-related categories were strong performers as well, with sales in building material and garden supply outlets up 1 percent, and sales in electronics and appliance stores up 0.8 percent.

Losing ground were retail outlets of sporting goods, books and music, where sales dropped 0.9 percent. Department store sales slipped 0.5 percent; and clothing and accessories were off 0.2 percent.

Retail Sales in September
(by channel)

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce
Winners
Gas stations 4.0%
Furn. & home furn. Stores 1.2
Bldg./garden supplies 1.0
Electronics & appliances 0.8
Grocery stores 0.7
Restaurants & bars 0.2
Non-store retailers 0.2
Losers
Car Dealers -2.8%
Sporting goods, books -0.9
Department stores -0.5
Clothing & accessories -0.2


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