Retail sales in the U.S. increased in November by the most in five months, as purchases of cars surged and early holiday shoppers scored deals on deeply discounted electronics and holiday gift-giving items during Black Friday weekend.
According to the U.S. Commerce Department, retail sales rose 0.7 percent in November, the sharpest increase since June and slightly more than the 0.6 percent rise forecast by economists. A jump in auto sales to a six-year high boosted the sector. Excluding autos, sales were up 0.4 percent. The encouraging November sales rose 4.7 percent from the same period a year earlier, and from September through November, total retail sales are up 4.1 percent year over year.
Big-ticket items were a big hit with shoppers this month, with a 1.8 percent gain in auto sales and gains of more than 1 percent in furniture, electronics and appliance stores. Americans also spent more time dining out, as restaurants posted a healthy 1 percent sales increase. Sales of gasoline dropped 1.1 percent, and sales of food and clothing posted smaller declines. Excluding both gasoline and cars, sales rose 0.6 percent.
The numbers suggest that consumers are feeling more confident, a good sign for retailers in the midst of the holiday shopping season. Analysts say that lower gas prices, higher stock prices, rising home values and stronger job growth have uplifted consumer sentiment and increased household spending. Consider, too, that the unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 7 percent in November, which seems to have had a domino effect on spending and overall economic growth.
U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops to 5-Year Low
Retailers Add 37,600 Jobs in October as Holiday Hiring Shifts into Full Gear
Retailers Add 15,200 Jobs in September; Holiday Concerns Persist
Amazon, Macy's Positive About Holiday Spending
Holiday Hiring Only Likely to Reach Last Year's Level – at Best