(CN) — Consumer spending rose by a weak 0.1 percent in September, following an equally tepid 0.1 percent increase in August, the Commerce Department said Monday.
This was the weakest two-month performance since the start of the year and was well below economist projections of a solid 0.6 percent rise in sales.
Retail sales are closely watched for signs they can provide for consumer spending, which drives two-thirds of economic activity. The economy expanded at a sizzling 4.2 percent rate in the second quarter.
Analysts have been forecasting that growth will come in at still-solid rate above 3 percent in the just completed third quarter but the weakness in retail sales may cause them to rethink their forecasts.
The modest September gain was led by a 0.8 percent rise in auto sales which represented a rebound from a 0.5 percent decline in July. But excluding autos, retail sales fell 0.1 percent after sales excluding autos rose 0.2 percent in August.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.