WASHINGTON (12/14/15)--Despite Black Friday, retail sales only edged up 0.2% in November, maintaining the tepid stretch that has dogged sales in recent months, according to the Census Bureau (Economy.com Dec. 11).
General merchandise stores--other than department stores--grocery stores, sporting goods stores and hobby stores drove the gains, while gasoline prices and auto sales weighed down on sales.
The top-line number climbed 1.4% higher on a year-over-year basis, but that marks the weakest annual growth since April.
“Top-line retail sales remain weak,” said Scott Hoyt, Moody’s analyst (Economy.com). “Consumers just posted four straight months of little growth, the worst four-month result since the four months that ended in March, when sales were hindered by severe winter weather. Sales have not advanced strongly in consecutive months since late last year.”
In their annual holiday spending survey, CUNA and the Consumer Federation of America found that consumers would likely spend less this year than last.
Core sales, which leave out gasoline stations and auto dealers, rose 0.5% during the month, and according to Moody’s have consistently outperformed the headline retail sales number recently.
Segments included in core sales posted growth rates of more than 0.6% on average in November.
On a year-over-year basis, nonstore retailers and restaurants have seen sales increase, while sales at gas stations, department stores, and electronics and appliance stores have fallen.
“Several drivers are strong or set to become stronger,” Hoyt said. “Falling energy prices are a plus for all retailers except those that sell gasoline or other energy goods. Job gains remain sufficient to tighten labor markets, which will lift income and earnings.”