Sales for the month, at a total of $412.9 billion, came to a 5.4 percent increase from September 2011.
In August, the month-to-month gain was revised from 0.9 percent to 1.2 percent.
For the third quarter, July through September, sales were up 4.8 percent from the same period a year earlier.
The bureau said sales of automobiles rose 9.3 percent in September compared to September 2011. Non-store sales, which used to mean catalog sales and now means catalog and Internet sales, rose 15 percent from September 2011.
Sales of electronics and appliances rose 5.4 percent month-to-month after dropping 1.4 percent July to August. Sales at grocery stores rose 1 percent after coming in flat in the previous month.
Gasoline station sales rose 2.5 percent from August and 5.8 percent from September 2011.