NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Retail sales fell short of economists' estimates in September amid sagging consumer confidence, according to data released by the Commerce Department Wednesday.
Overall September retail sales rose 0.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted $224.9 billion, compared with a 0.2 percent increase in August.
The numbers fell short of economists' expectations of a 0.6 percent gain for September.
Excluding auto sales, retail sales were 0.1 percent higher, compared with a 0.1 percent jump in August.
"This is a weak report overall," Greg Jones, chief economist for Briefing.com, said. "It's too soon to say for sure we're seeing weakness in consumption, but certainly these are some early warning signs."
The report indicates "consumer spending is gearing back," said Douglas Porter, senior economist at Nesbitt Burns Securities. "It is very much in line with sagging in consumer confidence in recent months. Although it does not suggest that consumer spending is falling apart, it is losing a lot of steam."
The bond market shrugged off the news. The benchmark 30-year Treasury climbed 8/32 in price for a yield of 5.067.
Auto sales, which typically account for one-quarter of all retail sales, climbed 0.9 percent compared with a revised 0.1 percent drop in August.
Sales of durable goods increased 0.6 percent from last month and were 3.4 percent above last year. Durable goods are high-priced items designed to last at least three years.
Sales of nondurables rose 0.1 percent from August and were up 3.4 percent from last year.
Sales in the apparel sector fell 1.3 percent from a revised August drop of 0.4 percent.
General merchandise sales grew 0.7 percent compared with a revised August figure of 0.1 percent. Food sales were up 3.8 percent.
-- from staff and wire reports