Outside drop in autos, US retail spending rises

 By Christopher S. Rugaber

AP Economics Writer
 
WASHINGTON (AP) — A sharp drop in auto sales caused largely by a calendar quirk lowered U.S. retail spending in September. But Americans boosted their spending on most other goods, showing some confidence in the economy ahead of the government shutdown.
 
Retail sales dipped 0.1 percent, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That’s the weakest showing since March.

Auto sales fell 2.2 percent, the largest decline since October 2012. But the drop was largely because the sales calendar pulled Labor Day weekend activity into August, the automakers have said. That means the drop is likely temporary.

Excluding autos, gas and building supplies, sales rose 0.5 percent in September, up from 0.2 percent in August and the same as July’s figure. 

Outside of autos, nearly all retailers reported higher sales, including furniture stores, electronics and appliance retailers, and grocery stores. Sales at clothing stores and department stores were the only others aside from autos to decline.

Retail sales are closely watched because they’re the first report each month on consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

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