Retail sales edged up 0.2% to $39.4 billion in November, a fifth consecutive monthly sales gain. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers as well as electronics and appliance stores more than offset declines at most store types.
In volume terms, retail sales rose 0.8%.
Gains were reported in 4 of 11 subsectors, representing 32% of retail trade.
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 1.8% in November. New car dealers (+1.6%) led the increase, rising for a sixth straight month. Gains were also reported in the “other motor vehicle dealers” industry (+3.9%) and used car dealers (+3.9%). Automotive parts, accessories and tire stores declined 0.6%, partially offsetting the gain in October.
Sales advanced at electronics and appliance stores for the third time in four months, rising 8.9%. Sales in this subsector can be affected by the timing of new product releases. Despite recent gains, sales in this industry for the first 11 months of 2012 were 5.1% lower than the same period in 2011.
Following three consecutive monthly declines, furniture and home furnishings stores reported a 3.9% sales gain in November. This increase came from higher sales at furniture stores (+3.5%) and home furnishings stores (+4.6%).
Gasoline station sales declined 2.3% in November, mainly reflecting lower prices at the pump.
Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-1.4%) decreased for the fourth month in a row.
Food and beverage store sales decreased 0.3% in November, after advancing for three straight months. This decline reflected lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.4%) and at convenience stores (-3.5%). Gains were reported at beer, wine and liquor stores (+0.5%) and speciality food stores (+1.1%).
General merchandise store sales declined 0.6%. Receipts at department stores fell 0.7%, a third consecutive monthly decline. Sales at “other general merchandise stores” decreased 0.5%.