Superstorm Sandy combined with cautious consumers to lower retail sales in October and raise concerns about weaker economic growth and a tepid holiday shopping season. Consumers may also be holding back because of anxiety over big tax increases and spending cuts — known as the ‘‘fiscal cliff’’ — that will take effect in January unless Congress and the White House reach a budget deal by then. Retail sales dropped 0.3 percent last month after three months of gains, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Sales at auto dealers fell 1.5 percent, the most in more than a year.
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