Retail sales cooled in September, according to latest industry figures, with consumers spending less at apparel and accessories stores as well as department stores.
Data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce found overall retail sales, which include cars, gasoline and restaurants, declined 0.1% from August, but grew 3.2% on September last year.
In September, sales at apparel and accessories stores were down 0.5% month-on-month but increased 2.7% year-on-year. Sales at general merchandise stores edged up 0.4% on August, and rose 0.6% on last September.
Meanwhile, department stores saw sales fall 0.9% from the prior month, and declined 6% year-on-year. Over at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, sales were up 0.5% from August, and increased 2.8% on September last year.
Separate figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF), which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, showed September retail sales climbed 0.6% from August, and increased 3.8% year-on-year.
“Retailers witnessed a solid sales performance in September, with marked gains in all sectors, excluding clothing,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.
“The American consumer remains ever-cautious and value-driven but continues to spend. Only time will tell if and when the government shutdown and debt ceiling debacle will impact retailers and consumers this fall and winter. The true economic impact of Washington’s inability to enact policies that enhance and sustain economic growth and certainty remains to be seen.”
NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz noted that falling gas prices and rising house prices continue to help consumer spending. “While far from robust, consumers are shopping, but they are spending both discriminately and moderately. Volatility still persists in various retail sectors but spending has somewhat stabilized heading into the all-important holiday shopping season.”
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