WASHINGTON (12/12/14)--Retail sales bumped up 0.7% in November, far outgaining the performance many analysts had expected for the month.
While auto dealers again experienced a strong month, improvements in retail were widespread among many segments, according to numbers released by the Census Bureau Thursday (Economy.com Dec. 11).
Excluding autos, overall sales climbed 0.5%, buoyed by better sales from building supply stores, apparel stores, nonstore retailers and department stores.
Miscellaneous retail stores were the only segment that failed to post a positive month.
"Retail sales were surprisingly strong in November," said Scott Hoyt, Moody's analyst (Economy.com). "Not only did growth exceed expectations, but upward revisions to the prior two months put sales at a notably higher level than anticipated."
Hoyt said that the weak areas in sales, such as at grocery stores, were likely impacted by low oil prices.
Annual growth in retail sales accelerated to 5.1%, which is the fastest pace seen in nearly a year and a half, Moody's said. Year-over-year sales have been fueled by auto dealers and nonstore retailers.
Meanwhile, the National Retail Foundation (NRF) reported Thursday that holiday shoppers have been taking advantage of discounts and early sales, which helped push spending higher in November.
Excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, retail sales climbed 0.6% in November and 3.2% annually, according to the NRF's numbers.
The NRF also estimates that holiday sales will post a 4.1% increase over last year's numbers.
"As we've said all along, retailers are optimistic that they will see healthy holiday sales gains this year," said Matthew Shay, NRF president/CEO. "November sales results confirm that optimism, and we are steadfast in our belief that we are on track to reach the 4.1% growth in holiday sales."
The Credit Union National Association in its holiday shopping survey conducted with the Consumer Federation of America forecasted similar subdued increases in growth this year (News Now Nov. 25).