September retail sales edge up

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By Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans kept spending carefully last month, buying electronics and back-to-school clothes but holding back on luxuries.

Erratic weather and tepid economic news dampened sales, according to data released Wednesday by MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, which includes transactions in all forms including cash.

But pockets of growth during the five weeks between Aug. 29 and Oct. 2 point to a modestly more robust holiday season this year than last.

Clothing sales rose 3.8 percent, driven by children's and family clothing, which includes teen retailers, as stores offered back-to-school discounts.

Other positive categories included electronics, up 4.7 percent. In that category, most of the growth came in sales between $500 to $1,000, as well as under $25.

Footwear and jewelry each inched up 0.7 percent. And, as usual, online sales were a bright spot, rising 7.8 percent, led by higher online clothing sales.

But luxury sales, excluding jewelry, fell by 5.4 percent from last year's already weak totals, losing ground despite recovery in the stock market — the S&P 500 rose 9 percent during the month.