September Retail Sales Fall But Don't Blame the Government
Updated from 8:59 a.m. to include more detailed information.
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - After being delayed by more than two weeks due to the government shutdown, the Commerce Department on Tuesday finally released September retail sales and the numbers weren't good.
U.S. food and retail sales declined 0.1% in September from August to $425.9 billion, according to the latest Commerce Department figures released on Tuesday, below economists' expectations of a 0.1% rise.
Retail sales excluding motor vehicles and parts rose 0.4% compared to the month before, in line with consensus estimates. Retail sales excluding gas, autos and building materials rose 0.5% in September, slightly ahead of expectations of a 0.4% rise, according to Thomson Reuters.But don't blame the government shutdown just yet for the decline in sales. Retail sales have been buoyed this year by the strong demand for cars as well as home furnishings as the home buying market rebounded. However, consumers may be over their car-buying frenzy. September sales from motor vehicle and parts dealers fell 2.2% for the month, compared to a 0.9% increase in the prior month. Furniture and home furnishing stores rose just 0.2% in September from August. Consumers didn't seem to be buying apparel either last month. Proving that the back-to-school season was indeed softer than expected, clothing and clothing accessories stores saw a 0.5% decline in September. Sales at department stores fell 0.9%. " A lot of people are going to say the government shutdown reversed the trend in consumer spending, when in fact when you look back on July, August, September, you already see a slowing or at least a topping out in spending patterns," says Steve Blitz, chief economist for ITG Investment Research. "There's no question ... that the slowdown hurt -- the second half of September was a lot slower than first half
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