U.S. retail sales slipped a tenth of a percentage point in October to a seasonally adjusted $351.6 billion, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on Nov. 15. But that wasn't as bad as the six-tenths percent decline that economists generally were expecting. October's sales figure is not exactly a harbinger of a significant consumer spending slowdown in the final quarter of 2005. For that still to happen, the U.S. would have to have a very unhappy Thanksgiving and much-less-than-merry Christmas.
Retail sales are a closely watched indicator because consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of total economic activity.