Washington, D.C., U.S. retail sales fell a smaller-than-expected 0.1% in October on a dip in car purchases, according to government data released Tuesday. Sales outside auto showrooms and gasoline stations, however, grew robustly. Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.9%, compared with expectations for a 0.2%.
In other evidence of solid retail demand, clothing and accessories sales jumped 3.1%, the largest increase since October 2002 when sales surged 5.2%. Analysts warned that consumer spending remains vulnerable to a renewed surge in the cost of fuel if the winter proves brutal. A slowdown in the U.S. property market could also challenge spending.