Sales at U.S. building material and garden supply dealers fell 9.3 percent in November despite overall gains in the nation’s 3 million retail businesses, a government report said today.

Initial government estimates from a 5,000 business sample showed $352.1 billion in sales overall for the month. Sales were up 1.3 percent from October and 1.9 percent compared with November last year.

Over the last three months including November, however, retail sales overall have been down 2.1 percent from the same period last year.

Retailers have cut back sharply on inventories during the past year to compensate for lower demand.