WASHINGTON – U.S. shoppers upped their spending in September, with sharp increases in sales at auto dealers, restaurants and gas stations.
The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.6 percent in September, a rebound after sales slipped 0.2 percent in August. During the first nine months of the year, retail sales have increased 2.9 percent compared with 2015.
Stabilizing oil prices meant that sales rose 2.4 percent at gas stations last month. Spending at restaurants improved 0.8 percent, while auto dealers, building materials stores and furnishers notched monthly gains of 1 percent or more.
Department stores suffered a 0.7 percent sales decline in September, part of a broader, long-term setback for the anchor tenants at many shopping malls that are now competing with online outlets for customers.