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Census Bureau: Retail Sales Fall in November

Steeper-than-expected drop reflects slowdown in consumer spending




PHOTOGRAPHY: kitzcorner/iStock PHOTOGRAPHY: kitzcorner/iStock

Retail sales in the U.S. dropped 0.6% month-over-month in November, much larger than consensus market forecasts of a 0.1-0.3% decline. The decrease, reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in its latest Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services, is the biggest decline so far this year, with sales of furniture (-2.6%), building materials (-2.5%) and motor vehicles (-2.3%) falling the most during the start of the holiday shopping season.

Other decreases were seen at electronics stores (-1.5%), non-store retailers (-0.9%), sporting goods, hobby, musical instruments and books (-0.6%), gasoline stations (-0.1%) and general merchandise stores (-0.1%).

Increases, meantime, were reported in sales at food services and drinking places (0.9%), food and beverage stores (0.8%), health and personal care stores (0.7%) and miscellaneous retailers (0.5%).

In its analysis of the numbers, Trading Economics noted that the data includes the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days, during which big discounts are offered. The resulting November numbers therefore “point to a slowdown in consumer spending amid high inflation and interest rates.” It also shows that holiday shopping was pulled forward into October, when sales jumped 1.3%.

To gather its estimates, the bureau uses a random sampling method to select roughly 4,800 retail and food services firms whose sales are then weighted and benchmarked to represent the complete universe of over 3 million retail and food services firms in the U.S.

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