November retail sales show ‘good start’ to holiday season

U.S. consumer spending showed momentum in November as shoppers began holiday shopping in earnest.

Retail sales in November rose 5% unadjusted year-over-year and 0.7% seasonally adjusted from October, reported the National Retail Federation. (The NRF numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.)

The NRF said the results, which reflect the first half of the holiday season, show that spending is on track to easily meet its forecast of a 4.3% to 4.8% increase in sales during November and December for a total between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion.

“Consumers have the capacity and confidence to spend this holiday season,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said, citing the influence of stronger employment, improved wages, tax cuts and increased net worth. “This is a good start to the holiday season and consistent with our outlook. Consumer spending remains solid and clearly provides evidence that the economy is healthy as we head into 2019.”

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said today that overall November sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – were up 0.2% seasonally adjusted from October and up 4.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

Specifics from key retail sectors during November include:
• Online and other non-store sales were up 12.1% year-over-year and up 2.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Electronics and appliance stores were up 5% year-over-year and up 1.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• General merchandise stores were up 4.2% year-over-year and up 0.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 4.1% year-over-year but down 0.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Health and personal care stores were up 3.6% year-over-year and up 0.9% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Building materials and garden supply stores were up 3.5% year-over-year but down 0.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Grocery and beverage stores were up 3.3% year-over-year and up 0.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 2.9% year-over-year and up 1.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
• Sporting goods stores were down 7.8% year-over-year but up 0.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.