Americans have cut back their spending in the wake of the September 11 attacks, with retail sales sinking 2.4% month-on-month in September, the steepest drop since February 1992 and considerably worse than the 1% fall predicted by analysts.

Before the attacks, consumer spending had remained buoyant despite the economic slowdown – August saw a 0.4% rise in sales.

Unsurprisingly, non-essential items were hit hardest. Car sales tumbled 4.6%, while expenditure on restaurant visits and clothing plunged 5%. The only sectors registering a rise were food and petrol – the latter mainly because of a hike in oil prices.

Non-store retailers, including dotcoms, turned in the weakest performance, posting an 8% decline in sales. In contrast, discount retailer Wal-Mart reported a 6% rise for September.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)