Retail Sales Down 2% in November

Retail industry sales for November (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from October and decreased 2 percent unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation. Industry related month-to-month sales saw the first increase in four months.

November retail sales released Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) decreased 9 percent unadjusted over last year and dropped 1.8 percent seasonally adjusted from October.

“Thanksgiving came too late in the month for retailers to see strong November sales,” said NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells. “With five fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, the holiday season will come down to December’s performance.”

Sales were down across most retail categories; however, some sectors saw slight increases in month-to-month sales. Electronics and appliance stores sales increased 2.8 percent seasonally adjusted from October but decreased 5.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Clothing and clothing accessories stores sales increased 0.8 percent from the previous month but fell 7.4 percent from November 2007.

Health and personal care stores sales increased 1 percent from October and 2.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year. General merchandise stores, which include discounters, were up 1.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month.and rose 1.3 percent from last year.

NRF continues to forecast meager holiday sales growth of 2.2 percent and defines the holiday season as retail industry sales in November and December.