A trade group in Washington said U.S. retailers struggled in the most recent week, with sales off 2.5 percent week-to-week.
The International Council of Shopping Centers said, "Customers appear to have taken a break as temperatures warmed up and gasoline prices continued to soar."
Also in Washington, the National Association of Home Builders said its confidence index rose for the fifth consecutive month in September.
By close of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average added 11.54 points, or 0.09 percent, to 13,564.64. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index lost 0.87 points, or 0.03 percent, to 3,177.80. The Standard and Poor's 500 dropped 1.87 points, or 0.13 percent, to 1,459.32.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,341 stocks advanced and 1,682 declined on a volume of 3.2 billion shares traded.
The benchmark 10-year treasury rose 10/32 to yield 1.812 percent.
The euro fell to $1.3046 from Monday's $1.3116. The U.S. dollar rose to 78.80 yen from 78.71 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index fell 0.39 percent, 35.62 points, to 9,123.77.
In London, the FTSE 100 index dropped 0.43 percent, 25.36 points, to 5,868.16.