Colombian retail sales fell 7.3% in September from the same month last year, according to official data released Wednesday.
The National Statistics Department, known as DANE, said sales of cars and motorbikes fell 26%, while sales of books, newspapers and office supplies fell 10% in September, compared with the same month in 2008.
The sales contraction is much bigger than the 1.6% decline expected by local brokerage Interbolsa.
The retail sales decline follows a 0.9% on-year drop in August, and a 3.7% fall in July.
In the first nine months of the year, retail sales fell 4.6%, compared with the same period a year earlier.
DANE said employment in the retail sector fell 3.7% in September from the same month last year. Employment in the retail sector at the end of 2008 had increased 3.3% from the end of 2007.