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Retail sales rebound in November

man and woman holiday shopping
Overall retail sales rose a better-than-expected 0.3% month over month in November.

The holiday season got off to a brisk start in November as retail sales rose after falling in October.

Overall retail sales rose a better-than-expected 0.3% month-over-month in November after falling 0.2% in October, reported the U.S. Census Bureau. Economists had expected sales to fall 0.2% in November. Taking out automobile and gas sales, sales rose 0.6% in November.

Core retail sales as defined by the National Retail Federation  — excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants —were up 3.3% year over year on a three-month moving average as of November and up 3.7% for the first 11 months of the year.

November results show holiday season retail sales appear likely to meet the National Retail Federation’s forecast, according to NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. 

“Today’s report highlights consumers’ strength and continuing capacity to spend,” Kleinhenz said. “Jobs and wage gains together with falling energy prices have supported holiday shopping as we predicted. Lower inflation for goods has helped savvy consumers make smart decisions about holiday purchases. The year-over-year comparison shows spending is on track to meet our projection for a sound holiday shopping season.”

Nearly 142 million consumers plan to shop on Super Saturday, Dec. 23, the last Saturday before Christmas, according to the latest survey from the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics.   The number is up significantly from the last time Super Saturday fell on Dec. 23, when 126 million consumers were expected to shop on that day in 2017.

The Census numbers for November align with the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, released on Monday, which predicted a strong November. The Retail Monitor reported that core November retail sales were up 0.73% from October, with total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline rising 0.77%.

The results come as NRF is predicting that holiday retail sales from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 – based on Census data but excluding autos, gas and restaurants – will increase between 3% and 4% this year over 2022 to a record total of between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion.

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