U.S. Retail Sales Fall 0.3% In September Amid Broad Weakness

MarketWatch Pulse

U.S. retail sales fell in September for the first time in eight months and the decline would have been even sharper if not for the release of the new iPhones, showing a continued reluctance among Americans to splurge on consumer goods. Sales at retail outlets fell a seasonally adjusted 0.3% last month, chiefly because of lower purchases of cars, trucks and gasoline, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.3% decline. Yet even if autos and gas are excluded, retail purchases fell 0.1% last month. Internet retailers, apparel outlets and home-improvement stores all saw a decline in sales. The one bright spot: electronics stores, whose sales jumped 3.4% to mark the biggest gain in a year and a half. They benefited from Apple's launch of the iPhone 6. Retail sales account for about one-fourth of consumer spending, the main engine of U.S. economic activity. Sales have risen 4.3% in the past 12 months, about two-thirds the historic growth rate.

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