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November Sales So-So

Washington —Buoyed by a strong rebound in car sales, which jumped up by 2.6 percent, overall retail sales edged higher by 0.3 percent in November, to a seasonally adjusted level of $353.9 billion, the Commerce Department reported.

But skewing the month-to-month sales picture substantially, all of November's gain came from the nation's car dealers, and when the highly volatile sales figures for cars are stripped out of the equation, retail sales actually dipped by 0.3 percent.

Putting downward pressure on sales during the month was a steep 5.9 percent drop at gas stations, which provided some cheer to consumers and left them some disposable income to spend at the malls.

Indeed, most retail formats recorded gains during the month, seven, compared with three decliners. Coming up strong, in addition to car dealers, was the building materials channel, as parts of the country continued to rebuild following a series of devastating storms that created havoc in southern states.

Otherwise, home related categories did less well. Sales in furniture and home furnishings stores slipped by 0.3 percent, and sales at electronics and appliance stores gave up 0.6 percent.

Retail Sales in November
(by channel)

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce
Winners
Car Dealers 2.7%
Bldg./garden supplies 1.9
Health/personal care 1.1
Restaurants & bars 0.9
Department stores 0.5
Clothing & accessories 0.2
Grocery stores 0.2
Losers
Gas stations -5.9%
Sports, books, music -0.6
Electronics & appliances -0.5
Non-store retailers -0.2


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