Minus car purchases, retail sales show a slight increase

Retailers had a shaky September, as lukewarm back-to-school shopping and a plunge in car purchases caused sales to slide from August, according to the government.

Retail sales last month amounted to $425.9 billion, down 0.1 percent from August, the U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday. But when stripped of the effects of motor vehicle and parts sales, which tanked 2.2 percent, the gauge was up 0.4 percent.

The clothing and accessories sector dipped 0.5 percent from August to September, while department stores suffered a 0.9 percent decline..

Metro region home prices jumped sharply in August

Home prices in the nation’s largest metro regions jumped sharply in August, posting yearly gains not seen since the last boom, according to a leading gauge.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday showed that home prices in 20 large U.S. metro areas rose 1.3 percent from July and 12.8 percent from August 2012, beating the expectations of analysts who predicted weaker price gains..

Sears eyes cutting loose Lands’ End, auto centers

It’s like watching an old friend slowly fall apart.

Sears, once the place where families could go for an afternoon of one-stop shopping for everything from clothing to appliances to car parts, has struggled amid declining sales and stiff competition.

Now, Sears, which runs 2,500 Kmart and Sears stores, is considering separating its Lands’ End catalog business and Sears Auto Center businesses from the rest of the company. The retailer also plans to continue closing some of its unprofitable stores and is selling some store leases in Canada.

The announcements came Tuesday as Sears warned that it expects a loss of $582 million in the third quarter on another drop in sales.

The company said for the 12 weeks that ended Saturday its sales at stores open at least a year fell 3.7 percent.

On the news, Sears shares rose $5.66, or more than 10 percent, to $61.22 midday.