WASHINGTON—U.S. retail sales reached $378.7 billion in November, up 0.8 percent over October and marking the fifth consecutive month of growth, according to this morning’s report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The total also represented a gain of 7.7 percent over November 2009. The increase included a 2.8 percent month-over-month gain by department stores (excluding leased departments), and a 1.3 percent pickup by general-merchandise stores. Furniture and home-furnishings stores experienced a decline month over month of 0.5 percent.
Much of the overall retail sales growth came from gasoline stations. Rising gas prices boosted this channel to a 4 percent November gain over October.
Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation, said today’s report is part of a holiday season that “has surpassed all expectations. While employment data is still a concern, we are starting to see improvement in other economic indicators.” The latter includes gains in the stock market, recent income growth and consumer savings piled up during the recession.
Based on today’s report, NRF has revised its projection for holiday-season spending growth to 3.3 percent, up from its previous 2.3 percent prediction. Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist, said, “With noticeable improvement in key economic indicators combined with great deals on merchandise, consumers have certainly shown they shouldn’t be counted out this holiday season.”