Retail Sales Bounce Higher

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This morning’s report on U.S. November retail sales showed a seasonally adjusted rise of 0.3% month-over-month and a 3.7% rise over the total for November 2011. Total sales for the past three months were up 4.3% from a year ago. Excluding gasoline sales, total sales rose 0.8%

Bloomberg had a consensus estimate for a rise of 0.6%. Excluding automobile and auto parts sales, the sales total was flat month-over-month, as analysts had expected. Auto sales rose 1.4% from October and 5.4% year-over-year.

The largest year-on-year gain came in nonstore retail sales, which rose 3% from October’s total and 11.1% from November 2011. Sales of sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores rose 7.1% year-over-year.

General merchandise sales fell 0.9% from October totals and 2.7% from November 2011 totals. Sales at electronics and appliances stores fell 1% year-over-year, but rose 2.5% from October.

Gasoline sales were down 4% month-over-month, which is likely a combined effect from lower sales due to Hurricane Sandy and lower prices for gasoline across the United States. That gave consumers the opportunity to spend more on other items.

The sharp increase in nonstore sales indicates a rising trend for consumers to shop online, a good sign for e-commerce retailers for the rest of this holiday shopping season. Provided, of course, that all sales were not pulled forward due to heavy promotional pricing.

Paul Ausick

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