WASHINGTON-Sales at the nation’s retailers finished last month at an adjusted $412.4 billion, 0.3 percent ahead of October sales and 3.7 percent greater than sales in November of last year, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Census Bureau.
A statement by the National Retail Federation said November retail checkouts benefited from the acceleration in holiday sales, which helped, to some extent, override the impact of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast in the beginning of the month. “Stable employment rates, lower gasoline prices and a recovering housing market have all contributed to a holiday shopping season that is on target to meet our original expectations,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. NRF has projected that holiday sales will show a 4.1 percent increase when all of the numbers are counted.
In the channels related to home, furniture and home furnishings stores saw November sales rise by 1 percent over October and 6.2 percent over November 2011. Sales at general merchandise stores slipped 0.9 percent month to month and were down 2.7 percent compared to one year ago. Department stores (excluding leased departments) registered declines of 0.8 percent month to month and 3.1 percent year to year.
Negotiations in the government over the fiscal cliff could create a wait-and-see atmosphere among consumers for the remainder of the holiday shopping season. “American consumers are expected to spend cautiously as they monitor the situation in Washington and wrap up their holiday shopping lists,” Kleinhenz said.