Sales at U.S. retailers fell in September for the first time in seven months as most stores posted lower receipts, signaling that a widely expected slowdown in consumer spending is underway.
Retail sales fell 0.3% last month, the government said Thursday, ending a streak of six straight strong gains that helped to fuel economic growth in the middle of the year.
Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a 0.3% increase.
Retail sales were flat if gasoline and auto dealer receipts are excluded, but the overall report was still quite weak.
Partly mitigating the soft September report: Retail sales in August were revised to show a 0.6% increase vs. an initial 0.4% estimate.