Washington, D.C. U.S. retail sales fell 0.3% in August, the Commerce Department said Friday. Economists expected sales to rise by 0.3%.
Taking out auto sales, which were strong in August, sales at all other merchants fell by 0.7%, the worst showing since December. That figure also was sure to disappoint economists, who were calling for a smaller 0.2% dip.
Sales fell at electronics and appliance stores, clothing shops, building and garden stores, and department stores. Gasoline sales also dipped as prices retreated. Sales at furniture and home-furnishing stores were flat.
Those losses swamped gains elsewhere, including auto dealers, sporting goods, books and music stores, grocery stores and health-and-beauty shops.