NEW YORK (AP) -- Shell-shocked by financial crisis, consumers avoided shopping last month.
The nation's retailers report the worst October sales since at least 1969.
It's prompting new concern about the holiday shopping season and dimming hopes for an industry recovery until at least the second half of next year.
Whether catering to the rich or teenagers, a range of retailers tell of steep sales declines.
One exception is Wal-Mart, which has found increased interest among consumers in discounted items, including the basics.
The world's largest retailer posted a 2.4 percent rise in sales at stores open at least a year.
The chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers calls October "awful."
He says the numbers reflect the severity of the financial crisis.