Washington D.C. U.S. retail sales slumped 1.2% in September, marking the steepest drop in sales in three years, according to the U.S. Commerce Department report. Retail sales have now fallen for three consecutive months, the first time that has occurred on government records that go back to 1992.
A major factor in the decline was weak auto sales, which plunged 8.4% year-over-year and 3.75% in the month.
But even excluding autos, retail sales were down a hefty 0.6% in September. Among those taking the biggest hit were furniture stores, where sales fell by 2.3%. Sales at department stores dropped 1.5%.
The U.S. economy grew at an estimated 2.8% pace in the second quarter but analysts say the figure was skewed by a one-time government stimulus that boosted spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, as well as strong exports.