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Retail Sales Missed Economist Estimates In September Due To A Drop-Off In Restaurants, Bar Visits

Retail sales had a flat month in September, but the usual suspects were not the ones dragging down the overall numbers.


U.S. Commerce Department report found that overall retail sales increased by 0.1% from August to September, well below the 0.6% predicted by many economists, CNBC reports. The year-over-year numbers continue to be encouraging, as this past month's sales outpaced last September by 4.7%.

The retail sector that saw the biggest month-to-month drop was restaurants and bars, which saw sales decrease by 1.8%. The decline was the steepest in at least two years, according to CNBC. Clothing stores saw sales increase 0.5% after a 2.8% drop in August, completing the role reversal.

Challenges in soft goods segments such as clothing and department stores have fueled the lion's share of negative headlines in the years since Amazon's rise to power. The trend continued in mid-October with Sears declaring bankruptcy after years of losses.

At least one person, the Wall Street Journal's Justin Lahart, chalked up the restaurant downturn to September's brutal weather. Hurricane Florence did not just cause billions of dollars in property damage, Lahart said, it also kept an entire region of diners from eating out. 

Restaurants have been among the primary beneficiaries of the increased cultural value of experiences in retail, having grown as a percentage of leisure spending among American consumers over the years. But with unemployment at historic lows and wages growing, all sorts of spending is on the rise this year — lending credence to the theory that September's drop is a temporary blip.