Still, retail sales increased more than expected in September as purchases rose 0.6 percent after a 0.7 percent gain in August, easing some concerns that consumer spending will continue to be a drag on the nation's economic recovery, the Commerce Department reported today. Some retailers are expecting better holiday sales this year and intend to ramp up hiring.
Meanwhile, consumer prices rose 0.1 percent in September, less than expected. Without including food or energy, prices were unchanged for the second straight month, according to a separate Labor Department report Friday.
Looking down the road six months, consumer expectations rose to 64.6 from 60.9, an indicator that consumer spending could pick up.
The gauge as to whether it's a good time to buy big-ticket items such as cars dropped to 73 from 79.6 in September, the lowest level in nearly a year.