WASHINGTON Americans spent more on autos, electronics and building supplies in November, and shopped more frequently online. The data suggests the economy is rebounding from disruptions caused by superstorm Sandy.
The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.3 percent in November, offsetting a 0.3 percent decline in October. When excluding gas station sales, retail sales increased 0.8 percent. The drop in gas station sales reflected lower prices.
"Given that the level of sales is no higher than in September, the catch up after Sandy may boost sales in December too," said Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist with Capital Economics, in a research note. "But the bottom line is that annualized consumption growth in the fourth quarter will struggle to beat the third quarter's 1.4 percent."
The gains were widespread except at department stores, where sales dropped. That's a troubling development at the start of holiday shopping.
Still, sales at non-store retailers, which include online shopping, rose 3 percent. That's the biggest monthly gain in 13 months.