U.S. retail sales rose 0.2 percent in November, driven by Black Friday bargain-hunting, but the month-to-month increase was the slowest since June, the Commerce Department said.
The National Retail Federation estimated November sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, rose 0.1 percent from October and were up 4.5 percent from November 2010.
The federation said it is sticking with its early October forecast of a 2.8 percent increase in November-December holiday sales but will re-evaluate the forecast this week in light of what it said was stronger-than-expected sales in November and previous months.
NRF president Matthew Shay said retailers are “are encouraged by a strong start to the holiday season, the real test will come in December when the majority of holiday spending occurs.”
Retail sales account for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity and generate a large share of U.S. containerized imports, which Journal of Commerce Economist Mario O. Moreno forecast will be flat in the current quarter.
Container ship lines hope strong holiday sales will force retailers to replenish tight inventories. Several carriers have announced trans-Pacific rate increases between Christmas and the shutdown of Chinese factories for the Lunar New Year celebration beginning Jan. 23.
The Commerce Department said retail, sales excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, posted a seasonally adjusted month-to-month gain of 0.2 percent in November. Sales rose 6.8 percent from November 2010 on an unadjusted basis.
Electronics, automotive, clothing, sporting goods and department store retailers reported increases. Building materials, grocery, drug and gasoline stores reported declines.
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