Retail Sales Growth Slowed in November

Retail sales rose slower than economists had expected in November following three straight months of sharp increases, according to data released Wednesday by the Census Bureau.

U.S. retailers and restaurants made $639.8 billion in sales last month, up just 0.3 percent from October and well below the 0.8 percent increase projected by analysts. October’s retail sales gain was revised up to 1.8 percent, a 0.1 percentage point increase from the initially reported figure.

Sales at department stores sank 5.4 percent last month and purchases at electronics stores fell by 4.6 percent, the Census Bureau reported. Sales by online retailers were flat, though sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores saw sales rise by 1.3 percent.

While a retail sales slowdown during the holiday shopping season would typically be cause for alarm, November’s tepid growth followed three straight months of expectations-beating increases.

Retailers and supply chain experts urged consumers to buy their holiday gifts early to ensure they could check off their lists before Christmas. Those warnings may have pulled sales that would have occurred in November  forward into October or September.