Retail sales fall for third straight month

“While the retail industry remains confident in an incremental recovery, today’s statistics should concern every policymaker in Washington and compel them to revisit burdensome regulations and job-killing tax increases set to take effect early next year.”

The economy has shown signs of weakening in the past several months, with employment gains falling and the manufacturing sector contracting for the first time in three years. 

Consumer spending drives the economy, representing 70 percent of economic activity. 

Sales have dropped off as gas prices have fallen. Higher gas prices tend to boost sales because consumers are forced to pay more and then a drop in overall sales occurs when prices fall. 

Still, spending excluding sales at gas stations fell 0.3 percent last month. 

“Weak economic numbers over the past few weeks have increased anxiety about the future direction of the economy,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF's chief economist. 

"Today’s data is discouraging but not demoralizing. If you look at the first half of the year overall, retail sales actually increased 4.6 percent year-over-year, indicating that the economy is improving but maybe not quick enough to impact consumer spending and job growth.”

Clothing sales increased 0.2 percent, electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 0.8 percent, furniture and home furnishing store sales decreased 0.8 percent, general merchandise sales decreased 0.2 percent, and sporting goods, hobby, book and music sales decreased 1.6 percent.