Friday, December 11, 2009
The Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose more than expected last month, up 1.3 percent in November after a gain of 1.1 percent in October. The November gain was the biggest increase since a 2.4 percent surge in August and brings the year-over-year change (unadjusted for inflation) back into positive territory for the first time in 15 months.
This came as something of a surprise to analysts because retailers across the country had been reporting lackluster sales during the holiday shopping season so far.
Though the overall increase was paced by a 6.0 percent gain in gasoline station sales, due largely to higher gasoline prices, gains were broad based, only three of the 13 retail sales categories posting declines. Excluding gasoline, overall retail sales rose 0.8 for the month.
Auto sales also continued to surprise, up 1.6 percent last month after a gain of 7.1 percent in October, continuing to recover from the Cash for Clunkers let-down a few months ago. Excluding autos, retail sales rose 1.2 percent.
Aside from gasoline, the sharpest increase in sales during November occurred at electronics and appliance stores where sales jumped 2.8 percent, likely an indication of the continuing fascination that Americans have with the current crop of electronics in advance of the holiday season.