Hurricane Sandy did more than knock out power and down trees across the Middle Atlantic states last month. It appears to have taken a bite out of U.S. retail sales for October.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that retail sales fell 0.3% last month. That marked the first monthly decline in three months, the Los Angeles Times noted.
Economists had forecast a 0.2% fall in retail sales largely due to disruptions across the Northeast resulting from the storm, which slammed New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in the final week of the month.
The larger-than-anticipated drop hinted that consumers might have been pulling back on spending prior to Sandy’s arrival, economists said. The Commerce Department said it couldn’t identify Sandy’s exact impact on retail sales because it doesn’t separate regional sales data.
Auto sales slipped 1.6% last month, compared to September. But the government also revised downward August and September auto sales.