(Updated with movement of numerous retail stocks.)
) -- Until the auto industry makes a real recovery, it appears that sales will continue to remain sluggish at best.
U.S. retail sales tanked 1.5% in September, their biggest decrease in nine months. That follows the 2.2% gain seen in August on the heels of the successful Cash for Clunkers program.
Still, this was still a smaller decline than the 2.1% drop economists had expected.
Autos weighed down results, plunging by 10.4%. But, excluding autos, sales actually rose 0.5%, signaling a slight hope in the consumer for the all-important holiday season.
Furniture stores jumped 1.4%, department stores inched up 0.4%, clothing stores grew 0.5% and grocery stores increased 0.9%.
Sales at general merchandise stores, a category that includes retailers like
, rose 0.9%. Sales at department stores edged up 0.4%.
Last week, department stores like
all reported better-than-expected same-store sales for September.
Shares of retailers are in the green in early trading on the sales data. The S&P Retail Index is gaining 1.5% to 397.30. Notable gainers include Macy's, which is rising 2.3% to $20.20,
, which is up 1.7% to $70.71,
, which is increasing 2.5% to $97.15,
, which is rising 3.4% to $14.45 and
, which is climbing 3.4% to $7.67.
-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York
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