Retail sales excluding autos increased 1.1 percent, the most since January, today's report showed. They were projected to rise 0.7 percent, according to the Bloomberg survey median.
Filling-station sales advanced 2.5 percent.
The retail sales data, which aren't adjusted for prices, may have reflected an increase in gasoline prices. A gallon of regular fuel at the pump cost an average $3.83 in September, up 13 cents from August and the highest level since April, according to AAA, the biggest U.S. auto group.
Electronics dealers showed a 4.5 percent jump in sales, the biggest gain since October 2011. The introduction of the Apple Inc. iPhone 5 at the end of the month probably help spur demand. Similarly, non-store retailers, which include online merchants, may have also benefited, leading to a 1.8 percent gain in receipts.
Spending increased 0.6 percent at clothing stores and 0.3 percent at general merchandise stores.
Retailers benefited from demand for back-to-school items, with September same-store sales topping analysts' estimates at discount and specialty-apparel chains. Target, the second- biggest U.S. discounter, had a 2.1 percent gain from a year earlier, and TJX, the owner of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, reported a 6 percent increase.
Excluding autos, gasoline and building materials, which are the figures used to calculate gross domestic product, sales climbed 0.9 percent, the best performance since July, after a 0.1 percent gain the previous month.
A stronger labor market would help boost the outlook for retail sales. Payrolls rose 114,000 in September after a 142,000 increase the prior month, according to Labor Department figures. The unemployment rate dropped to a three-year low of 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent.
Household purchases may have grown at a 1.9 percent annual rate in the third quarter after a 1.5 percent gain in the prior three months, according to the median forecast in a separate Bloomberg survey of economists taken from Oct. 5 to Oct. 10. Spending will rise 2.1 percent this quarter, the survey showed.