Retail sales in the US hit 8-month high in November. Will holiday spending soar?

Retail sales rose 0.7 percent in November – their biggest monthly gain in eight months despite a relatively weak Black Friday weekend. Cheap gas prices and higher wages helped fuel the November retail sales growth. 

Melissa Key/The Goldsboro News-Argus/AP/File
Sabrina Kelley makes some sale purchases as Patricia Graham helps her at a register on Black Friday at Berkeley Mall in Goldsboro, N.C. Retail sales rose 0.7 percent in November for their best performance in eight months, the Commerce Department reported Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.

November is typically a huge shopping month, with Thanksgiving and Black Friday kicking off the busy holiday retail season. But thanks to cheap fuel and wages that are finally starting to pick up, the retail sector was especially strong last month.

Retail sales rose 0.7 percent in November – their biggest monthly gain in eight months , according to data released Thursday by the Commerce Department. Economist had been expecting a gain of about 0.4 percent. October sales were also revised upward to 0.5 percent. Excluding auto sales, which led the charge with a 1.7 percent November gain, so-called “core” sales were up 0.5 percent.

For the year, retail sales were up 5.1 percent since November 2013. 

The strong monthly report continued a trend of robust retail growth heading into the end of the year. “The average October/November level of seasonally adjusted total retail sales is 1.02 percent above the Q3 average, indicating that overall consumer spending on goods has grown at a very solid pace in the first two months of Q4,” MFR Inc. economist Joshua Shapiro wrote in an e-mailed analysis.

Consumers have plenty of reasons to feel good about spending more. The labor market continues to improve: The economy added another 321,000 jobs last month, and the number of workers filing for unemployment benefits fell last week. Wages, which have been stagnant through most of the jobs recovery, are finally starting to rise. Also helping matters: cheap fuel. Gas prices are nearing the $2 per gallon mark in some parts of the country, meaning shoppers have a little more wiggle room for other purchases.

“The upturn in sales supports survey evidence that the economy’s recent growth surge is showing few signs of stalling, despite a gloomier-looking global economy,” Markit Economist Chris Williamson wrote in an e-mailed analysis. “We expect, however, that the upturn is cooling compared to the heady rates of expansion seen in the summer.”

The November strength in retail sales came in spite of a relatively weak Black Friday weekend. Sales on Thanksgiving through the following Sunday were down 11 percent from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Still, analysts think the sag actually may portend good things for the holiday shopping season overall.

“We expect real consumer spending growth in the fourth quarter to be north of 3 percent, and holiday retail sales growth this year is expected to be significantly stronger than 2013 and 2012,” IHS Global Insight economists Patrick Newport and Stephanie Karol wrote in an e-mailed report. “The real mover and shaker on the retail sales front is online sales. We expect online holiday sales to be more than 14 percent of total holiday retail sales this year.

They add: "Looking ahead, we expect real consumer spending growth in 2015 to outpace 2014 due to lower gasoline prices, stronger real disposable income growth, and elevated levels of consumer confidence.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Retail sales in the US hit 8-month high in November. Will holiday spending soar?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today