After a nearly three-week delay, the U.S. Census Bureau has released the advance monthly sales report for September. Overall, retail sales were down 0.1% from July at $425.9 billion, but were still 3.2% above year-ago figures.
For building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (NAICS 444), the unadjusted net for September was approximately $25.1 million, down from August's $26.9 million. Consistent with overall progress for the retail trade, September's figures increased over those of last year, which came in at $23.3 million.
Sluggish auto sales were a major factor in the slow pace of sales in September, which were down 15.7% over July (NAICS 441).
This may be an indication that the economy was already beginning to level off in the weeks leading up to the government shutdown, though may economists predict that we'll be feeling the effects of the Congressional standoff in the months to come.
Forward jobs momentum, as evidenced by last month's 7.2% five-year low in unemployment, could conceivably create the demand needed to stimulate sales activity. However, jobs growth was relatively disappointing at 148,000.
Following adjustments, the July to August percent change in retail sales remained at a small increase of 0.2%.