Retail sales in November rose 4.8 percent from the year-ago period and 0.6 percent from October, according to the National Retail Federation.
The sales took into account reports from stores selling general merchandise, clothing and clothing accessories, sporting goods, hobby items, books, music, electronics, appliances, furniture and home furnishings. The sales include all channels, including e-commerce.
“November's sales illustrate an improving economy and increasing consumer optimism,” NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells said in a statement. “Though last month's sales were solid, we expect an even better pace in December as consumers have yet to complete the bulk of their shopping.”
This year's numbers are a clear improvement over last year's. Holiday sales growth in categories measured by NRF rose only 2.7 percent in November 2002 versus the same month a year before. December 2002 was even worse, up only 1.7 percent year-over-year.
Electronics and appliance stores led retail sales in November, up 14.3 percent unadjusted for the year and growing 2.2 percent seasonally adjusted from October.
Health and personal-care stores were next, growing 7.1 percent unadjusted for the year, 1.3 percent adjusted for the month. Clothing and clothing accessories grew 4.3 percent in November unadjusted for the year and 1.1 percent adjusted month-to-month.
NRF, Washington, has predicted a 5.7 percent increase in holiday sales for November and December, the highest growth forecast since 1999.
The NRF numbers were out the same day the Department of Commerce released its snapshot of the retail economy. The department said total retail sales including automobiles, gas stations and restaurants — not counted by NRF in its estimate — rose 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted for November and 4.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.