Retail sales rose +0.3% in November from the previous month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This was slightly less than expected but an improvement from the -0.3% decline in October. Year-over-year, retail sales were up +3.7%.
The overall impact of Hurricane Sandy on this report is unclear. However auto sales were particularly strong, rising +1.4% from the prior month and +5.4% year-over-year. Excluding this category, retail sales were flat in November. However, gas stations were a drag on the report, as sales plunged -4.0% from the previous month thanks to falling gas prices.
Furniture sales were very strong, rising +1.0% from October and +6.2% year-over-year. And sales of electronics jumped +2.5% from October. However, this was likely due to holiday shopping as electronic sales were down -1.0% from the same month in 2011.
This chart below from Calculated Risk Blog shows the year-over-year change in retail sales, excluding gasoline, over the last 20 years. You can see that while sales are still improving, the rate of growth has recently been decelerating:
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