Retail Sales Numbers Up In November

Retail sales in the United States rose in November, though only slightly: by 0.2 percent.  Analysts say that lower gasoline prices helped boost holiday shopping, which contributed to the bump.

According to the US Commerce Department, however, retail sales have climbed a comfortable 5.3 percent this year, so far.  And, actually, non-store retail sales—which includes internet retailers like Amazon—jumped 2.3 percent in November alone. At the same time, many other retail outlets saw a decent bump in their numbers once the holiday shopping season kicked off. For example, furniture stores took a nice 1.2 percent bump and electronics and appliance stores saw an increase in sales by 1.4 percent.  Hobby, musical instrument, and book sales also all saw bumps of about 0.4 percent.

On the other hand, traditional physical clothing store sales dropped 0.2 percent after an excellent 1.3 percent jump in October.  Sales at restaurants and bars also took a dip—though only by about 0.5 percent—essentially correcting the 0.6 percent that industry saw in October.

Looking more closely at the metrics, the Commerce Department dictate that retails sales—excluding automobile, gasoline, food services, and building materials—were quite impressive at 0.9 percent, last month. This comes, also, after an upward revision of 0.7 percent the month prior.  This number reflects the core retail sales, the metric which most closely corresponds with the consumer spending component of our gross domestic product.  And these numbers are good because economists had forecast core retail sales growth of only 0.4 percent last month.

Speaking of gross domestic product, the analysts estimate the GDP should grow at a rate of 2.4 percent.  Of course, the economy grew at a rate of 3.5 percent in the period between July and September.

Analysts are quick to remind, however, that fuel purchases did not help the sales growth.  Gas station purchases were down 2.3 percent thanks to higher prices in October, which when coupled with increased auto-buying, retail sales gained a more broad growth of 1.1 percent.  Still, excluding gas purchases, US retail sales in November grew a stable 0.5 percent over last year.


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