Summary Box: Sept. sales slow from Aug.

NEW YORK -- SEPTEMBER SALES: A tally of 22 major retailers, including Target Corp. and Macy's Inc., showed that September sales rose 3.9 percent compared with a year ago. That's slower than the 6 percent rise in August.

BEHIND THE NUMBERS: But shoppers are still spending. Analysts say the results are an encouraging sign for stores as they head into what's traditionally the busiest shopping period of the year in November and December.

WHY IMPORTANT: Retailers' monthly sales figures are based on revenue at stores opened at least a year and offers insights into how Americans are spending during the slow economic recovery.