US retail sales rise only 0.2% in Nov, less than expected

13 December 2011 18:37  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US retail sales were at a seasonally adjusted total of $399.3bn (€303.5.4bn) in November, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday, an increase of 0.2% from October and weaker than most economists had been expecting.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a gain of 0.5% for November’s retail sales, and the modest showing suggests that consumers are becoming more cautious.

The narrow 0.2% advance in retail sales for November marks the second month of lower growth and is in contrast to the 0.6% advance seen in October from September and September’s robust 1.2% gain over August.

The mediocre November advance is seen as all the more surprising, given that the month typically is one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. Consumer spending usually ramps up sharply in November in advance of the US Christmas holiday in December and its tradition of gift-giving.

However, the National Retail Federation (NRF) noted that the November gain in retail sales marked the 17th consecutive month of increases, and last month’s sales were 6.7% ahead of November 2010, according to the department's data.

NRF president Matthew Shay said that the November figures show that “though consumers remain concerned about the economy, they are demonstrating an increased willingness to spend this holiday season”.

But Shay noted that the real measure of consumer sentiment will come with retail sales data for this month.

“While [retail] companies are encouraged by a strong start to the holiday season, the real test will come in December when the majority of holiday spending occurs,” he said.

Consumer spending is the principal driving force of the US economy, accounting for as much as 70% of all production and commerce.

($1 = €0.76)

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy


By: Joe Kamalick
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