November Retail Sales up 4.7 Percent

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that total retail sales, which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, increased 0.7 percent and 4.7 percent year-over-year after adjusting for this year’s late Thanksgiving.

The Census Bureau’s also estimated that seasonally adjusted November retail sales by:

  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ decreased 0.2 percent month-to-month and 4.1 percent year-over-year.
  • Nonstore retailers’ increased 2.2 percent month-to-month and 9.4 percent year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ increased 0.1 percent and 5.5 percent year-over-year.

The so-called Advance estimates are based on responses to surveys emailed to 5,000 retailers that account for 65 percent of US retail sales and will be revised twice in coming months as more data becomes available.

The National Retail Federation said the advance estimates indicate total merchandise sales (sales excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) increased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and 3.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Seasonally adjusted means Census adjusts its estimates for holiday and trading day differences. In the case of November, that meant trying to estimate the impact of having eight fewer holiday shopping days this year compared with 2012.

“Once again, consumers have demonstrated their ability to drive the economy forward,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “By-and-large consumers have pent-up purchasing power and are willing to spend this holiday season. Retailers will compete for each and every shopper and sale this season, and promotions and deals will continue throughout the holiday. Although this holiday season will remain challenging for some retailers, today’s retail sales report bodes well for a solid holiday sales season, and may provide the foundation for accelerating economic growth and momentum in the New Year.”

NRF said the Census November estimates are consistent with its holiday sales forecast of 3.9 percent.