November Retail Sales Ramp up

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Retail sales rose by 0.8% in November, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. The increase follows a 1.7% uptick in October and represents a 7.7% growth in sales compared to the same time last year. 

Overall, retail sales have now risen for five months in a row, though what’s driving the increase has varied since the last decline in June. November’s increase was propelled by department store sales, which rose by 2.8% last month, the strongest advance exhibited by this type of retailer in two years. The rise in department store sales had dropped by 0.9% in October.

By contrast, October’s increase was accounted for in large part by auto sales, which fell by 0.8% in November.

The data seem to indicate that the deep discounting and aggressive marketing campaigns that Americans are seeing this holiday shopping season have been effective. Specialty clothing store sales rose 2.7%, after a 1.2% gain in October. Sales at general merchandise stores, which include big retail chains such as Wal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT), increased by 1.3%, an improvement from the 0.3% rise in that sector in October.

The Commerce Department’s figures should come as no surprise as various retail trade groups were already reporting considerable holiday sale increases on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The news wasn’t all good, though: Sales were down at furniture stores, appliance stores and hardware stores. So for all the people who still have holiday shopping to take care of, do the retail sector a favor and buy that special someone a couch, a refrigerator, or even a table saw while you’re at it.

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