MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, a data service, showed year-on-year declines in spending on items including flat-panel TVs and major appliances, The Associated Press reported.
The lull may continue until the Christmas shopping period begins after Thanksgiving.
"This was an OK month. It wasn't that bad," said Mike McNamara, vice president of research and analysis for SpendingPulse, which covers transactions in all forms including cash.
The International Council of Shopping Centers pared its forecast for sales at stores open at least one year. The ICSC now forecasts growth of between 2 % and 2.5% for the year, compared with an earlier estimate of 2.5% to 3%.