Economic Buzz: US Retail Sales Up 0.8% In November

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November's results indicate that retail sales for the holiday season - defined as November and December - are on track to meet or exceed NRF's holiday sales forecast for an increase between 3.6 and 4 percent over previous year.

US retail sales rose more than economists expected in November as Americans increased spending at the start of the holiday shopping season, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The stronger than expected retail sales growth came despite a modest decrease in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, which edged down by 0.2 percent in November after jumping by 1.2 percent in October. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

Last month, sales at gardening and building material stores jumped 1.2 percent after slipping 0.1 percent in October.

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"This has been an impressive start to the holiday season, perhaps the best in the last few years", Jack Kleinhenz of the National Retail Foundation said in a statement. The U.S. central bank raised borrowing costs for a third time this year and forecast three rate increases for 2018.

The newspaper also said that "high inventories and a slowdown in purchases by worldwide tourists amid a rising dollar" contributed to a poor holiday season for retailers past year.

According to The Wall Street Journal, economists had predicted only a 0.3 percent increase in sales for November.

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In a separate report, the Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 225,000 for the week ended December 9. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was smaller.

Auto sales were not a factor in the monthly increase.

The online shopping sector saw a sales increase of 2.5% as ecommerce firms continue to increase their prominence in the market.

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