WASHINGTON Nov 14 U.S. retail sales fell in
October for the first time in three months as superstorm Sandy
slammed the brakes on automobile purchases, suggesting a loss of
momentum in spending early in the fourth quarter.
Sales dipped 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said on
Wednesday, after an upwardly revised 1.3 percent increase in
September that was previously reported as a 1.1 percent rise.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected retail sales to
fall 0.2 percent. The decline partly reflected the impact from
superstorm Sandy, which lashed the densely populated East Coast
-- holding down auto sales.
The Commerce Department said it had received indications
from companies that the storm had both positive and negative
effects on October's sales data.
Motor vehicle sales declined 1.5 percent, the largest fall
since August last year, after increasing 1.7 percent in
September. Auto manufacturers have blamed the storm for the drop
They expect auto sales to rebound in November. Automakers
and dealers last week estimated that as many as a quarter
million vehicles would end up in the scrap yard because of the
Excluding autos, retail sales were unchanged last month
after advancing 1.2 percent in September, the Commerce
The storm also likely dented sales at clothing stores, which
dipped 0.1 percent after rising 0.4 percent the prior month.
Building material sales surprisingly fell 1.9 percent,
defying expectations of a boost from pre-storm purchases.
Building materials and garden equipment sales has increased 2.1
percent in September.