Retail sales in the United States declined 0.2 percent in April, in line with analysts' expectations, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.
The April drop came after retail sales had gained 0.2 percent in March and fallen 0.5 percent in February.
According to the report, the weakness was led by a 2.8 percent decline in auto sales, the biggest setback in this category in 10 months.
Excluding autos, retail sales rose by 0.5 percent, a better performance than analysts had been expecting.
Gasoline station sales declined 0.4 percent in April, but were up 16.3 percent from the same month of 2007.
Sales at furniture stores edged up 0.1 percent last month whilesales of electronics and appliances jumped by 1.4 percent.
Sales at clothing stores rose by 0.7 percent last month. And general merchandise stores saw sales gain 0.5 percent.
Total sales for the February through April period were up 2.2 percent from the same period a year ago.
Many economists believe that the risk of a recession has been increasing. The big worry is that consumers could cut back their spending significantly amid a steep housing slump and a severe credit crunch.