Sales for the month totaled $412.6 billion. That's down month-to-month, but up 3.8 percent from October 2011.
The month-to-month gain for September was revised from 1.1 percent to 1.3 percent.
In the August through October period, total sales were up 4.7 percent compared to the same period of 2011, the Census Bureau said.
The bureau said sales of automobiles fell 0.5 percent from September, but rose 5 percent from October 2011. Gas station sales rose 1.4 percent month-to-month, and were up 7.7 percent compared with October 2011.
Non-store sales, which used to mean catalog sales and now means catalog and Internet sales, fell 1.8 percent from the previous month, but climbed 7.2 percent from October 2011, the Census Bureau said.