Excluding plunge in autos, retail sales grow in September


The frugal consumer appears to be opening her wallet a bit more. Retail sales fell 1.5 percent in September, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Wednesday -- but, excluding a 10.4 percent plunge in auto purchases, retail sales rose 0.5 percent, a statistic that suggests the retail sector is gradually improving.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected September retail sales to fall 2.1 percent and rise 0.3 excluding autos. Retail sales rose a revised 2.2 percent, in August, down from the previously released 2.7 percent. For the first nine months of 2009, retail sales are down 8.8 percent to $3.04 trillion.