September sales up, but consumer wary 

Washington– In contrast to the same-store sting many retailers reported on September sales, the overall retail sales growth for the month was up 2.2% over September 2006, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) – but the merchants' organization acknowledges that the consumer is feeling “conservative.”

The figure, which excludes sales of automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, equated to an 0.2% rise over the more robust August.

“Consumer spending continues to be restrained in most areas,” commented NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells. “Although sales across the board show modest increases, consumers are certainly spending more cautiously.”

Data from the Commerce Department, which does include the auto and restaurant sales, registered 2.9% climb year-over-year for September and an 0.6% seasonally adjusted rise from August.

Housing market concerns affected both the building material and garden equipment and the furniture and home furnishings sectors of retail. The NRF cited home furnishings store sales dipping by 0.6% seasonally adjusted from August and down 3.6% unadjusted over last year. Building materials stores sales increased 0.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and decreased 2.3% unadjusted year-over-year.

Volume was flat for retailers of apparel and fashion accessories.

The stronger-upside categories were electronics and appliances, as well as health and personal care.

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