Washington, D.C. -- A report released Thursday by the Commerce Department said that U.S. retail sales rose 0.3% in November from October, reflecting a bounce back after the effects of superstorm Sandy. Excluding fuel, retail sales increased a solid 0.8%. The median forecast of 81 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.5% rise.
The 0.3% rise offsets a 0.3% dip in October from September.
Among the various retail categories, home improvement stores increased 1.6% in November, as Sandy victims retrenched and rebuilt. Auto sales leaped 1.5% on post-Sandy vehicle replacements.
Sandy wasn’t the only contributor to the November strength. Many Americans started their holiday shopping in November, leveraging early retail promotions. Electronic and appliance sales rose 2.5%, furnishings rose 1% and e-commerce surged a healthy 3%; apparel rose 0.9% in the month.
There were some losers in November, however. Department stores sales dropped 0.8%, and general merchandise stores fell 0.9%.