Sales at auto dealerships fell 0.5 percent last month after rising 1.4 percent in September. The decline is surprising given that motor vehicle manufacturers reported strong sales for October.
Retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services rose 0.2 percent after an upwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in September. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.
Core retail sales previously were reported to have dipped 0.1 percent in September. Economists had forecast core retail sales rising 0.4 percent last month.
The lackluster report suggests that savings from cheaper gasoline are being used to pay rents, which have increased substantially over the past year.
Still, the weak spending tone is unlikely to significantly shift expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month in the wake of October's robust employment report. The U.S. central bank has kept its benchmark overnight interest rate near zero since December 2008.