German retail sales were unchanged in September from the previous month, as consumers in Europe's largest economy remained reluctant to go shopping. Sales dropped 0.4 percent from a year earlier, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said on Friday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News expected a 0.6 percent monthly gain and a drop of 1.1 percent in the year, the median of 13 forecasts showed. The HDE retail industry group expects sales to rise as much as 1 percent in 2004 after a decline by that amount this year. “Consumer spending doesn't seem to be taking off in a rush, so I remain a bit skeptical about how strong a recovery in the industry will be,” Stephan Rieke, an economist at ING-BHF Bank AG in Frankfurt, told Bloomberg.