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Retail sales fall in November in all but two categories


Retail sales fell in November as consumers felt the squeeze from rising interest rates and inflation.

Core retail sales decreased 0.4% in November from October, according to the National Retail Federation, whose calculation excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. In October, sales rose 0.6% month-over-month, fueled by earlier-than-usual holiday shopping driven by worries that inflation would continue to increase prices.

Sales fell month-over-month in November  in seven out of the nine categories tracked by the NRF, with only grocers and health/personal care stores registering increases.

“While job and wage gains and built-up pandemic-era savings supported holiday shoppers in November, shoppers were squeezed by inflation and higher interest rates,” stated NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “This was the first leg of the official holiday season and had a large hurdle to overcome with monthly comparisons because of early shopping in October, but the consumer remains surprisingly resilient.”

Although core retail sales declined in November from the previous month, they were up 5.6% from November 2021, the NRF noted, and up 7.2% year-over year for the first 11 months of the year.

“The healthy year-over-year comparison is more important and clearly shows that the economy is not in a recession,” Kleinhenz added. “Spending is on track to meet our expectations for a solid holiday season.”

The NRF is predicting record crowds for Super Saturday,which falls eight days before Christmas this year, on

Dec. 17.  The day is expected to draw more than 158 million shoppers, the highest number since NRF first started tracking this data in 2016.

The  U.S. Census Burea said overall retail sales in November were down 0.6% from October, but up 6.5% year over year. (The number is not adjusted for inflation as gauged by the Labor Department’s consumer price index, which increased 0.1% in November, below expectations.) That compares with increases of 1.3% month over month and 8.3% year-over-year in October.

Claire Tassin, retail & e-commerce analyst at decision intelligence company Morning Consult, said that the spending slowdown in November was driven in part by dropping prices in key sectors like gas and auto.

“But also in the aggressive discounting by retailers as they pushed to move inventory and capture spending from price-sensitive shoppers,” she added.

November accounts for the first half of the holiday season, which NRF defines as November 1 through December 31, and the results are on track with NRF’s forecast that 2022 holiday sales will increase between 6% and 8% over 2021.

Even the low end of NRF’s forecast of between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion in holiday sales would top last year’s record of $889.3 billion.

  Specifics for November are listed below.

  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.8% month-over-month and up 8.8% year-over-year.
  • Online and other non-store sales were down 0.9% month-over-month but up 7.7% year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.7% month-over-month and up 4.3% year-over-year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were down 2.5% month-over-month but up 3.7% year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 0.6% month-over-month but up 3.5% year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores were down 0.1% month-over-month but up 3.2% year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 0.2% month-over-month but up 1.7% year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 2.6% month-over-month and down 3.3% year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 1.5% month-over-month and down 5.6% year-over-year.
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