Retail sales were down slightly in October after three straight months of gains.

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There was a three-tenths of a percent retail sales drop in October, led by a one-and a -half percent drop in auto sales, the most in more than a year.

Excluding autos, gas and building materials, sales fell 0.1

percent. That followed a 0.9 percent gain in September for that category. Online and catalog purchases fell 1.8 percent, the most in a year. Electronics and clothing stores also posted lower sales.

John Holub of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, says some retailers here benefited from the recent storm while others were hurt.

He says, "For folks like restaurants, unfortunately, I think they were significantly impacted. However, you have some other retailers that probably did benefit from the storms."

Holub says the retail sales drop is somewhat disconcerting, coming so close to the start of what's being called a "crucial" holiday retail season.